The Mad Hatters 5 mile trail race
Anyone who regularly uses the M60 around Stockport during rush hour will tell you that the journey is usually a long one, with heavy traffic and a couple of bottlenecks to deal with. On this particular Wednesday a train strike combined with a tanker fire clogged the roads up further, and during the slow trip from work to the dazzling lights of Stockport’s Tesco Extra my speed rose, fell and ground to a halt several times – a feeling I was to experience again before the evening was over.
Finally arriving at Stockport but finding myself with some time to kill, I decided to explore Reddish Vale Country Park – the venue for the race. I’d visited here earlier in the year with a similar goal, as I’ve done the Mad Hatter before and wanted to train on bits of the course. But nothing looked familiar and, with hindsight, it turned out I’d gone to completely the wrong end of the park. So I wasn’t going to get lost this time. Nope. Totally didn’t end up on the wrong side of the river while trying to get to registration. Didn’t have to entirely retrace my steps either. Must have been someone else.
A swift diversion, quick natter and race number pickup later I made the trip from the registration desk at the pub back to the start area. With no start list available I had no idea who else was in attendance, so was pleased when some Harriers started to appear. And then, casually strolling around the corner came Tuesday’s Round the Runway M55 race winner Aidan Raftery. And what better way to greet such a welcome face than with a cheery ‘What the hell are you doing here?!’ On reflection, beneath his calm and unassuming facial features lay the cool and calculating mind of a champion seeking race glory. Or maybe his wine rack was a bit on the empty side.
Then, after a countdown leading to a completely silent starting whistle, the race was on! Straight into a closed metal barrier! Mass panic ensued, with most going through the small gap at the side of the barrier and some (including yours truly) electing to go under it instead, a feat which I managed with the grace of a finger-painting rhinoceros. The two-lap course’s Krypton Factor-esque layout then continued round a sharp corner and through a narrow gap in a fence, leading to the first of many, many undulations.
For those who have never done the Mad Hatter, you could think of the course as a condensed Stockport 10. And for those of you who have never done the Stockport 10, imagine a course loosely based on the ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ nursery rhyme. One minute you’ll be powering up a tarmac cycle route, the next you’ll be flying down a dirt path. The course goes over bridges, by rivers and through woods culminating in a trip up the COBBLES OF DOOM. TWICE.
You could not, however, accuse the race of being boring. Unlike others it holds your attention throughout (through necessity if nothing else) and the park is well-kept and beautiful to behold. Civilisation is only minutes away but it never feels like that in the vast greenery of Reddish Vale Country Park. The Mad Hatter is definitely a challenging and demanding race but is lots of fun and has a great venue and vibe.
In the results, Ben McIntyre was the first Sale Harrier over the line in 4th position with a time of 31:00, with Steven Townley close behind in 7th position with 31:32 and Jon Terry in 18th position with 33:30 to win the male team prize. Katherine Wood, fresh off her recent Great Northern 10k women’s race win over the weekend and, in her own words, ‘taking it easy’, came home as 2nd female in 33:05, while Jane Thomas (the winner of last weekend’s Kentmore Trail 10km women’s race) and Lydia Briggs had their own battle for 2nd and 3rd Sale women finishing with 37:03 and 37:16 respectively, the women’s team finishing 2nd overall.
Individually, Aidan Raftery won the M55 race with 33:56 and his second race win in two days(!), while Jackie Cordingley won the F55 race with 39:15. Full results for everyone are as follows:
Posted 14/05/2018 07:47