The inaugural Trafford All Terrain Challenge may best be summarized with the words friendly, inclusive and challenging. The three-day running event in South Manchester clearly had appeal within all factions of the local running community. From the elite athletes from the likes of Stockport Harriers and Trafford Athletics club, to beginners just starting out on their running journey; the Trafford All Terrain Challenge had something for everyone. At the front end of the races, the athletes were challenged in the form of stiff competition, with 14:11 5000m man Jack Martin (Stockport Harriers) and former international mountain runner Laura Riches (Leigh Harriers) running out as overall winners of the series. For others, the challenge was simply to complete this three-day running event.
The first race of the series was on Friday evening, with the 5 mile x-trail race. Starting at Turn Moss, a small group quickly established itself at the front, setting a fierce pace. This group included Jack Martin (Stockport Harriers), Jack Morris (Stockport Harriers), Jack Nixon (Stockport Harriers), Daniel Cliffe (Liverpool Harriers) and Tom Charles (Trafford Athletics Club). However, as they moved onto the rolling hills of Stretford Meadows, the challenging terrain clearly took its toll. This was evident as they returned to the finish much more spread out. Jack Martin returned home victorious ahead of former National cross-country medalist Daniel Cliffe. Stockport Harriers also clearly set their stall out for team honours, as in addition to Martin, Stockport’s other Jacks (Nixon and Morris) came home in third and fourth respectively. In fact, such was the strength of the Stockport squad, they had back up from 2:28 marathon runner Andy Nixon and 2:31 marathon runner Mike Sawrey in eighth and ninth place respectively. Laura Riches (Leigh Harriers) was first female across the line.
On day two the mile races around Sale Water Park were seeded into heats according to ability. Former English Schools 1500m finalist, Phil Williams (Rochdale Harriers) took the first heat in a time of 5:05. Next up was the race for elite women. This was a tightly contested race, although on this occasion Laura Riches finished second, as the mountain runner had to succumb to the track speed of former English Schools 1500m medalist Lucy Dowsett.
The eagerly anticipated elite men’s race was another tightly contested race. David Horniman (Trafford AC) looked like he might be the favorite, as the 1:49 800m runner set out a strong pace in the first half of the race. However, Stockport Harriers once again exerted their dominance in the latter stages of the race, as the trio of Jack Martin, Jack Morris and Jack Nixon secured the first three places respectively. The winning time of 4:20 was particularly impressive given that this was a trail race.
On the final day it was the three-mile trail race, starting and finishing by Jacksons Boat Pub. By this point the runners were running on weary legs. However, this did not stop the trio of Jacks from Stockport Harriers securing another 1, 2, 3, with Jack Martin winning his third race of the series to win the overall title. Unsurprisingly, Stockport Harriers won the team title. Trafford Athletics Club were a clear second, whilst local running club, Chorlton Runners, gained a splendid third place.
Watch this space for Trafford All Terrain Challenge 2017!