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Chorley 6 Hour

10/10/2016

Margaret Gray and Les Hill of Dumfries Running Club travelled south to Chorley, Lancashire to take on this challenging event. 

It involved circulating a tarmac and gravel path of 801 yards in length as many times as possible in the 6 hours. The route drops and climbs about 10 metres in the lap and while some of the runners walk regularly on the climb, especially in the latter stages, Les reckons the variation actually helps because it means using different muscles that reduces repetitive strain setting in.

Margaret’s main aim was to pass the marathon distance in under 5 hours so as to obtain the qualifying time for the 2017 Comrades ultra marathon.

Les’ aim was to surpass the distance obtained last year and improve his UK &NI record for the age category V55 – 59.

In ideal conditions the race started at 10am and Les instantly settled in to a pace of exactly 3 minutes 30 seconds per lap that he maintained for two hours to clock up 34 laps. So with four hours remaining he knew he was well on his way to surpassing the 87 laps he did in 2015.

He knew he would slow as the race progressed and so was delighted to have completed 66 laps after 4 hours with 16 laps each hour in that period.

This meant he only had to do 22 laps in the last two hours to beat the record. He did over 27 laps during this period to achieve 93.4 laps and he improved the record by 2.9 miles to raise it to just over 42.5 miles. Averaging over 7 miles per hour for six hours is an incredible feat.

Les is already thinking of returning to this race next year for another record attempt. However, by that time he will be in the next age category as this is his final year in the 55 to 59 group.

Margaret enjoyed her first short loop race and ran a controlled pace to ensure she reached her marathon target in just over 4 hours 44 minutes.

Any thoughts she had of taking it easy from then on were soon dismissed as Les’ wife, also Margaret, who provided excellent back up and support to them both pointed out that with Les running so well Dumfries Running Club had an opportunity to overtake the leading team. This was Red Rose Running Club of Preston, and so Margaret had to dig deep and keep up the good work. The Red Rose team was made up of two mean. Both had been ahead of Les in the early stages of the race and after five hours their team were in the lead by 11 laps. But both Red Rose runners struggled as the time elapsed and Les was lapping both regularly. He was also able to encourage Margaret each time he lapped her and in the last few laps Margaret and Les scraped in to the lead and managed to win by just one lap. This was down to Margaret getting 66 laps and a very impressive 30.4 miles to add to Les’ 93 laps for a total of 159 laps. Incredible that after 6 hours there was only 800 yards separating the two teams.

It came to light after the event that the UK record for Margaret’s age category is only a few yards over 32 miles. 1.6 miles more than Margaret obtained but with the knowledge of what needs to be done she may be back next year with a different goal.

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