I spotted this event on Facebook several weeks before I thought about doing it – it was on Fathers day, and was therefore perhaps not the ideal time for me to vanish down to Bury for the morning.

However, as it transpired, my Mother (who I see every couple of months or so) AND my sister had decided to pop down for a visit to see Leyland Festival. As my family do like trains, and I like running, it seemed a good time to suggest they stopped an extra night.

So, Saturday night came, and I tested our informal running base (the Poachers) for food – 20oz steak went down a treat, as did the pints of San Miguel. The only real downside to the evening was watching Ronaldo miss an open net…

Nonetheless, undaunted, and hangover free, we arrived in Bury to a packed out car park and train station. Registration was quick, t-shirt was handed out there and then (BRIGHT orange) along with race number etc.

The loved ones boarded the train, and we lined up to start.

Now I’d done the maths – and running a steady 8 minute mile would let me finish 3 minutes ahead of the train. Doable.

race the train blog

From the outset, I’d like to say that it was an absolutely lovely course – 80% trail, 20% road, peaceful, scenic. The sun didn’t scorch us to pieces, and there was a slight breeze, but it was still pretty humid.

I think I had imagined that the 11.3 miles along the train track would be relatively flat, but we were soon disabused of that notion. Up and down the sides of the valley (at one point we ran round a park, for no apparent reason, but at least it was flat). The trails were dry, and well packed, if a little narrow (I think they were only 6 inches wide at one point).

But we went along canal paths, crossed the tracks, through some forest, through a field of cows (we really need to rethink that Red vest we wear), up a big hill, down the big hill, along some cycle paths, through an industrial estate, up another big hill – a testing run to say the least.

The idea, if you hadn’t guessed, was to beat the Steam train to Rawtenstall, from Bury. We ran in one direction, and the steam train set off south, and then turned round before chasing the runners.

A very well marshalled course (some 30 marshals in total), and a lovely piece of bling at the end.

Did I beat the train? Sadly not – but a respectable 1:39:17 has left me eager to take the challenge on next year

I’d definitely recommend this event to all abilities – it’s a good distance, a great course, and above all else…

The best Father’s Day present a guy could ask for