The “race” to enter this race, started back in October when the website opened and had sold out within two hours. This was the 8th Mad Dog, but only my second. My previous association with Round Table, the organisers of this race, really should have meant I supported this far sooner, however, it was better late than never!
The Odeon Car Park was heaving with fellow WRCers, most trying to keep warm in the near zero temperatures, some taking on board coffee and bananas, others looking just a wee bit worried about what they were letting themselves in for.
The banter on the bus was a little muted, but tales of previous experiences in Southport centred upon the hope that there would be no wind – this didn’t bother me particularly, I was focusing more on ensuring we managed to get to the podium for the obligatory pre-race Team Pic. I needn’t have worried, as it all went swimmingly.
As these things go, the “bag drop” was relatively painless. The school hall was full of runners staying out of the cold, and was punctuated only by the sounds of old friends re-uniting, hugging and telling each other how great they looked in their makeshift bin-bagged wind breakers.
Jo Pavey was the special guest given the opportunity to start the race, but was drowned out by the obligatory boom of The Baha Men asking who had let the dogs out, over and over again. No-one was more delighted than me that there was a power outage, which meant we could hear more about Ms Pavey than I thought we would.
The race was underway, and at the top of the uphill climb, just before turning right towards the town, was a Ska Band, pumping out one of The Specials best songs, Nite Klub.
Gradually, the assembled throng started to spread out a little and I was able to pick up the pace slightly. The golf club was on my left and a vast sea of nothingness was to my right, but I only had eyes for whatever was in front of me, as I attempted to target fellow runners to overtake.
The musical accompliment over the course was like going from the sublime to the cor blimey. The steel band was excellent, Elvis, Englebert and Ralph McTell very much less so, really making me feel that Britain’s not really got that much talent, despite what Ant or Dec tell us.
At half way, I was delighted with my progress, far too fast of course, so it was only a matter of time before fatigue would set in and slow me down.
Meandering through the town itself, with the support from the locals being top class, anxiety began to bedew my brow, as my legs, finally began to succumb to the chill factor, leaving my thighs feeling like blocks of lead.
Fortunately, the KM markers were climbing in number, and in the distance, I could hear the Ska Band getting louder and louder. How ironic, that this very verbose, fat bloke (me) was serenaded into the home straight, with a rendition of Bad Manners biggest hit, Lip up Fatty.
Many of you will know that the finish line seems to take you ages to get to, even though the adrenaline rush and the downhill element was contributing to a reasonable increase in speed on my part.
I ‘broke the tape’ with a far better time than I expected, albeit slower than last year, and knew that I had truly earned my “refreshment” points on the bus back to HQ.
More importantly, there were many PB’s from other WRCers, as well as for a few, completing their first race or longest distance.
As tradition would have it, Mad Dog T-shirts were emblazoned with race medals as we bundled back into HQ to celebrate our collective achievements, and no doubt, plots were being hatched to take on the race and course in 2018.
Footnote: It’s always wise to check the contents of the goodie bag before ripping into whatever carbohydrate you can find as Tom Thomson and Wayne Nickson would attest, woof!