The Mad Dog is an interesting little event on the sea front at Southport. This is the 5th year of the event, but the first time I’ve managed to get a place. It’s a hyper popular event with all the local clubs and can be somewhat of a battle ground. Given the right conditions it can be a very fast course. Given the wrong conditions it can be 6.21 miles of pain, agony and ultimately disappointment.
This year there was a field of just over 2000 huddled at the start line. The theme of the event is, yep you’ve guess it, dogs. Based on your estimated finishing time, you get labelled an appropriate breed of dog. I was designated a Dalmatian. This was in the 2nd fastest group, so I had a bit to live up to.
Training over winter has been frustrating. Hate is a strong word, but I really, really hate running in the cold. I’m a warm weather person so anything that makes me cold, I approach with a hint of distain.
On the day it was very foggy, not a lot of wind at the start line but the air was only just above freezing. Not my favourite conditions at all. At the start there was a high level excitement among the runners and the supporters were out in force. Once we were all penned in, we were moved towards the line. After an enthusiastic bloke in a dog costume on a lorry got around 50% of the runners barking at him, we were off.
The route was a big loop encompassing the marine lake. Sections of it followed the same route from the Sea Side 10k I participated in last October, but this time the roads were closed and there were plenty of marshals. Very well organised. At strategic points around the course there were various entertainers. Elvis and several other lounge lizards were stretching their pipes trying to hand us all fliers and business cards. A Steel band and a not-so-good collection of drummers were camped on round-a-bouts. Half the race was run directly on the coast road. In the summer it’s quite nice to feel a sea breeze when you’re running. It cools you down, and in the right direction can give you a bit of push. In February however, a (what felt like -100 degree, force 10 gale) gust from the sea, when you’re dressed in stretchy running gear, cuts down to your bones and makes you question the whole reason for getting up in the morning. Extremities of all kinds disappeared or went numb.
The last 1500m of the course is a big L shape so you can see the finish in the distance. So after just being passed by a guy with dreadlocks and flip flops (I’m not kidding here, actual flip flops and he must have been running a 6:00 mile at that point) I gave it all I had to the finish and over the line to a mass of beeps from the timing system. I conveniently came to rest right next to my support crew. My GPS clocked it as just over 10k and finish time of 45 minutes. Just inside the top 15% of finishers. Given the number of clubs all wanting to beat each other to a paste, I was quite happy with this. A few seconds off my PB in unfavourable conditions. I used to call it my “Post Uni PB”, but I finally conceded that I will never be as fast as I was 15 years ago, and the time has passed for me to be selected to run the 800m for Team GB (*sad face with too much grey hair*) I decided to reset all my personal best times so I have achievable targets.
The goody bag was swiftly raided by the smallest of my support crew who then re-issued it to me starved of a packet of Haribo and some other exciting looking edibles. He decided he wanted to present me with my medal.
Nice start to the year, although a little on the chilly side. Onward to longer distances and an attempt at multi-sport events for the rest of the year.