If you’re a fan of road races but prefer the leafier surrounds of the countryside to slogging it through city streets, then this 10K could be just your bag. The race starts and finishes in the shadow of the grade II listed Colshaw Hall. The large house forms part of a picturesque country estate in the Cheshire village of Over Peover, which sounds like a toilet technique used by time-conscious trail enthusiasts. There’s also a Lower Peover and Peover Heath (insert your own runner-related toilet jokes here).
More than 1,000 people had signed up for the race, with significant a from number from north-west based running clubs. And many would have been hoping for a PB on the fast and largely flat course. But there were evidently runners of all abilities there, and also a 1K fun aimed at four to 14-year-olds.
The 10K follows a roughly triangular route along closed country lanes south of the Hall. The main feature en route is the iconic Lovell Telescope at the Joddrell Bank Observatory, which runners pass before returning to the finish along the Hall’s tree-lined driveway. As the field set off I knew my own hopes for a PB had all but disappeared due to a packed early summer running diary. In fact, it was my third race in four days so I knew it was going to be a little tough. A few hillier sections early on didn’t help and after mile two I could already feel the fatigue in my legs and I began to lose ground on those ahead of me. I tried to channel Czech legend Emil Zátopek, who was known to up his pace when he felt tired, but after a few shorts bursts of acceleration I knew this was a misguided strategy. Thankfully, I chose ease off the pace just as the spectacular Lovell Telescope came into view for the first time. Even from this distance – around a half mile away – it looked impressive. It’s one of the biggest and most powerful radio telescopes in the world and has quietly probed away at space’s dark depths for more than 60 years in the hope of revealing more about the universe in which we live.
The telescope remained in eyeshot until the course turned for home after mile four and I found my my mind straying from the realities of the race to thoughts of what might be ‘out there’. But Earth’s gravitational pull on my body continued to pose more immediate questions for me as runners I’d passed a long time ago began to overtake me. By now, I realised there was no possibility of maintaining my usual 10K pace over the final couple of miles. But like many other runners I take pride in giving a race my best shot and I always enjoy a sprint finish, even if I feel tired. So as my watch showed half a mile to go I decided to catch up with a small group who’d opened up a gap ahead of me. Then, with 400m remaining, I went through the gears to overhaul them in the final straight. So I had something to smile about, despite missing my PB by more than three minutes!
The race is well organised, friendly and reasonably priced, plus the finisher’s medal is one of the largest and most eye-catching you’ll find. Aside from the Joddrell Bank, there are many other nearby attractions, such as Tatton Park, which means you can make a day of it with the family if you wish. And for those who just enjoy a post-race drink the nearest pub is about 5 minutes walk away from the finish.