Up Hill, Down Dale in Chorley : The Allison Trophy


white coppice2

It was a misty, moist afternoon around Heapey and White Coppice as we braved what one competitor described euphemistically as a ‘characterful’ course. Star of the show was a svelte John Crahan, fresh from the gym, who knocked minutes off his best time in winning the Allison Handicap Trophy. Thanks are due to Dave Evans for stepping so expertly into Fred Pearce’s shoes, Dave and Louise for sorting the venue and refreshments, together with John, Jane and Dave for marshalling the troops.

See my personal reflection on the race below.

Allison Trophy 15K @ Chorley 12th March 2016 (Race Permit No:RWA6022-1)

Scratch Race

1 Tony Taylor Lancs WC  M65  83.25
2 Adrian Edwards  Lancs WC  M50  88.57
3 Roy Gunnett  Lancs WC  M65  98.17
4 Greg Smith  Lancs WC  M60  100.27
5 Joe Hardy  Lancs WC  M70  101.20
6 Ian Hilditch  Lancs WC  M70  101.40
7 Pat Evans  Lancs WC  W60  101.48
7 John Crahan  Lancs WC  M65  101.48
9 Sailash Shah  Lancs WC  M50  104.55
10 Phil McCullagh  Lancs WC  M55  106.30
11 Irene Pike  Lancs WC  W60  108.08
12 Claire Goulden  Lancs WC  W50  111.07

1 John Payn  Lancs WC  M80  87.19
2 Andrea Lennon  Lancs  WC  W70  95.56

Let me begin by saying I have the fondest memories of the roads on which we raced on Saturday. Back in the late 60’s and 70’s this beautiful part of Lancashire was central to the Sunday morning sessions those of us living in the Bolton area got up early to do. Later when I lived in Horwich one of my sporadic comeback years saw me in White Coppice more than once. However, although the Allison Trophy course may well be character-building, great for getting the hard miles in, I’m not sure it helps us to become better at race walking.

The uphill stretches are often so steep as to make locking the knee very difficult and the downhills so steep as to make contact problematic at any sort of speed. On the first lap I got in a right mess, trying to push it, on a right angle left-hand bend after the flattish section from the former Railway pub. The road fell away quickly, the problem worsened by an awkward camber. Nearly tripping over my own feet I was admonished by a passing motorist, who didn’t think much of my mode of progression. Hopefully I gathered my wits after that and returned to earth for the rest of the race. In a nutshell I’m suggesting that if you try to walk quickly on the course you are going to have real technical problems. Hence, in the circumstances, I’m not really sure what to think of my decent time.

Of course we don’t want to lose great venues and characterful challenges of this type. However, looking to the future and the 2017 season , I do think we need a couple of races a year on flat, well-surfaced roads based on a 1 kilometre lap or out and back, where we can try to walk as fast as we can and be scrutinised much more closely than on our present portfolio of courses.

Your thoughts and criticisms welcomed.


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6 Responses to Up Hill, Down Dale in Chorley : The Allison Trophy

  1. Enjoyed reading that Tony ! Pleased to hear that ‘character’ was built a tad more, your time really was excellent and the assessment very honest.

    best wishes

  2. Dave Evans says:

    Fully agree with Tony’s assessment of how the gradient disturbs the walking technique and his honesty about the effects on his own style is helpful to others who have similar thoughts about themselves post race. His time was brilliant and proves that age is no barrier till you check your date of birth !

  3. Greg Smith says:

    First, chapeau to Tony for a terrific time — and on a course that for me always manages to instil dread! I’d echo his suggestion that we need to look for a flatter course to add to our current portfolio of racing venues. Perhaps there is an industrial estate somewhere in the region where the roads would be quiet on a Saturday afternoon? Or maybe we could consider a return to Stanley Park in Blackpool or Woodbank Park in Stockport?

  4. Adian Edwards says:

    Chorley is a tough, challenging and potentially injury inducing course, but we have 4 regulars from the town; and it’s the closest venue for several other Lancastrians. I’m quite happy to keep walking in Chorley, it’s an easy venue to reach on public transport.
    We do have two races on the track this year.

    • Tony Taylor says:

      Point taken, Adrian, re the track races being on the fixture list and I don’t think I suggested moving from Chorley, even though I’ve got an ice pack on my knee at this very moment! It’s a great and accessible venue, as you say. Nevertheless I still think there is a case for finding a road course for 2017, which matches those now used for national championships. It would make the fixture list more varied, interesting and appropriate. Cheers.

  5. tony.... says:

    I agree with the other Tony. The Chorley course is lovely countryside, I used to run there in the late 1980s when I lived in Preston. However, it is not a good course for technical race walking, going down the steep hill to the end of the lap it is difficult not to lift. To a lesser extent the Macclesfield course has a similar problem. If we can find a course with a reasonably flat 1-2km loop it will be a lot easier and we would also be able to avoid traffic. The Macclesfield course is getting a bit busy, especially heading uphill to Sutton.

    Hope to see people at the Ken Munro race a week on Saturday.

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