The race was run and the bling was jangling around my neck as I enjoyed the endorphin high. Five kilometres of pure downhill, what a gift, what an adrenaline rush, what a great negative split. Unfortunately the rush was preceded by a five kilometre uphill stagger, but it’s always best to get the hard part over with first.
We’d trotted across the Pennines to Bolton for the inaugural Mast Race, which was a fair description as it was a race to a mast and then back again. Two-thirds were on road and the rest on fell, so footwear choice was a challenge, I went with my trail shoes, hoping the mud wouldn’t be too deep. It was just deep enough to soak my feet and leave a respectable boggy coating on my legs, my kind of mud.
The trickiest bit was giving way to the speedier runners who were on the return leg, there wasn’t that much room on the muddy, icy, rocky, narrow path and I saw a couple of them come a cropper. Amazingly, I stayed upright, even on the icy road.
Our Japanese friend Maika had joined us for the trip to the red rose county, we warned her to listen out for those Lancastrian intonations ‘looooook’ and ‘have you not got no dinneeeeer?’. She confessed she couldn’t spot the difference between our Yorkshire and their accents, clearly we have more work to do there, tha’knows.
We headed for nearby Ramsbottom, if only to titter at the name, and found splendid coffee and blow-torched goats cheese at the Tamp and Grind, an independent cafe run by the lovely Adrian.
The good folk of Ramsbottom had rebuilt and restored the railway station on the East Lancashire Railway, 12 miles of steam nostalgia. A definite delight, full of character and characters. As we entered the souvenir shop, we expected it to be full of Thomas the Tank Engine, colouring books, pencils and rubbers that smell of strawberries. Instead, we were greeted by beautiful batik printed fabric, a couple of Buddhas and a maneki-neko (Japanese waving cat) and a Malaysian lady who could tell a tale. This was not what we expected.
It turned out the batiks were made by Chandra, who had moved to Ramsbottom from Malaysia one cold February a couple of decades ago. Landing at Manchester Airport from the land of no seasons, she was amazed at what she thought was external air conditioning and how extensive it was. No, her new husband explained, that’s winter, British winter. And the upside-down trees? she asked, worried that the English didn’t have much idea about forestry, after all, she’d never seen trees without leaves before! We laughed and shared our own stories.
That’s why I love running, it’s not just about putting one foot in front of the other, or the bling, though I do like a bit of bling. It’s the places I go, the people I meet, the friends I make and the adventures I have!