Mary Conway and Tracy Woods Whistle stop tour journey

Mary Conway and Tracy Woods Whistle stop tour journey

So Friday 9th September arrives and the drama starts before our running journey even begins. On the way to work in Burnley I clip the kerb whilst being nosy and trying to see why a big lorry is blocking the road and feel my steering go, long story short, destroyed two of my tyres, had to get recovery to take me home and I was due to be driving us on the first leg of the Tour. Mary Conway to the rescue!!

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Red Rose coaches, you would be proud of Mary, she trained, she built up her miles, she was strong… me, I did everything you aren’t supposed to do, the only running I had done since the full Tour in July was the Keswick Park run the week before! This sums up our fab weekend
1st Race – 5 miles Arrowe Park – Wirral

Our journey to Arrowe Park was pleasant, we decided to use the Mersey Tunnel on the way there, parked up at the car park that was shown on the map…. And then proceeded to follow some friends from the Tour to the start, which was probably a mile and a half away from where we parked the car, so our journey started with a Tour of the Park. The run started at 7pm, so the light wasn’t great when we started, for us slower runners when we were going through the woods, there was practically no light, you could see marshalls shining torches so that we knew where to go! The finish of the 5 miles was a run around the field, in the dark… no markers, no marshalls….. reminded me of school cross country… I have decided I don’t like grass….

There were no goodies left by the time I had finished apart from bags and bags of liquorice, I picked up a couple of bags and Mary asked if she could put hers in my rucksack as she had left her bag in the car, she had bags of liquorice down her top, tucked into her skirt, I am not entirely sure where she stored the 7…. Yes 7 bags of liquorice that went into my rucksack…. Well actually she had an 8th bag which she carried herself!
Now to find our way back to the car – we asked a marshall who said the best way was to make it onto the main road and then walk along the main road back to the car, it was longer than cutting through the park… so what do we do – lets aim for the shortest route…. So we start on a dark path through Arrowe Park, I turn on the torch on my iphone, which beams this nonsense piddly bit of light ahead of us. Its just us two, right in the middle, in the pitch black of the park, I turn on the maps app thing I have on my iphone and our blue dot is moving steadily across open grassland to the red dot of our destination. We pass a marshall who is collecting up the marker posts, “where’s Arrowe Hall” we ask. “Just down there on the left” we are told.

10 mins later, Mary has munched through half of the bag of liquorice she was carrying and we are at the end of the path… no Arrowe Hall in sight. We can see the hospital, so walk across the park to the boundary line which is fenced off… Mary has disappeared into the dark and then I hear a voice from the other side, she has found a gap in the foliage we can squeeze through, so we are now on the hospital car park….. we find some hospital staff who point us in the direction back onto another path into the dark park…. We see a building and Mary remembers it is the Hall she used to park at for work, so we circle it trying to keep it in our sight, she starts running, forgetting I am carrying a packload of liquorice!!! as the car park is close by……so after finishing the 5 miles, it took us an hour to get back to the car….. however we were safe because if anyone had tried to attack us, they would have had a whack around the head with a bag full of liquorice!!!

At the end of Race 1, Mary was in 4th place for her age category – well done Moo. I wasn’t last…

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We decided to go the longer but quicker route home avoiding the tunnel
Miles driven 107
Miles walked….. probably about 4
Miles as part of the WST 5…..
2nd Race – 8 miles Thurstaston – Wirral
£370 later and two new tyres on my car (I can fully recommend ATS in Bamber Bridge for great service) I collect Mary at 8am on Saturday morning, deciding to avoid the tunnel and continue to use the longer (but quicker) route, our journey was uneventful.
The route starts on some of the Wirral coastal path which is really pretty, we then drop down onto the beach, for what seems to be miles and miles – in reality about 2 miles… – we run over soft sand, relish a bit of firm sand, the stones are slippery and the ascend into some woodland to meet the steps of hell…… I loved the trail bit of it – but then you are out onto a housing estate, a bit further and then there is another quite steep short hell hill…. Then a mile or so to the finish…

Mary was there cheering me at the finish… but when I came round to meet her, she was sporting a number of scrapes and bruises – she had decided to take a closer look at the rocks on the beach and had slipped and bumped her head and scraped her elbow and knees, but she had waited to cheer me on at the finish before we sent her off to St Johns Ambulance and you will have seen the FB pictures being tended to by just 3 people! Salted caramel ice cream from the van made us both feel much better….
I ended the day acquiring a couple of blisters and a couple of bruised sore toes….

Obviously the bump on the head spurred Mary on as at the end of this run she was position 2 in her age category!
Miles driven 241
Race miles completed – 13
3rd race – 13.1 miles Wirral half marathon

So the third race of the series is a public race so quite a few people taking part and there is also a 10k option, but everyone is set off at the same time!
This run wasn’t a loop, it starts at Birkenhead Park and finishes at New Brighton, so we decided to park the car at the finish and take the train to the start… no problem!

I was driving and missed the turnoff to avoid the tunnel, so Mary said tell the guy we don’t want to use the tunnel…. I wasn’t sure but drove into one of the manned booths. The lovely chappie told us it happens all the time and gave us directions to make our way to New Brighton…. Travel arrangements worked perfectly, caught up with other Tourists on the train to the start. It was really really warm, running along the coastal path was pretty, catching the breeze occasionally was fab!
At 6 miles when the 10k’ers branched off, I cannot repeat what I was thinking at that time, but the feeling when crossing that finish line – what an achievement!

Mary successfully secured a couple of huge bags of Butterkist popcorn and started to eat one like she was never going to be fed again…. Even when someone said ‘Photo Mary’ in went another handful of popcorn, she must have been hungry! I have never seen such a little person be able to consume their own body weight in food!!

We received two fantastic long sleeved tech tees, and two quality pieces of bling. We got to catch up with some fab Tourist friends and are talking a few of them into crossing over the border into Lancashire land to either try our park run or one of our Lancashire runs.

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Either the full Tour or the shorter Whistle Stop Tour, I would recommend it as it is an amazing experience and some fab friends made along the way.
I think Mary finished 3rd in her age category which is amazing. I finished…. Which I think is equally amazing… please can someone shoot me if I agree to taking part in these types of events in the future…
Total miles driven – 345
Race miles completed 26

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