The Bannerman Trail Race: trails, hills & steps - what's not to like?

Next up in this year’s Merit League was the historic Bannerman Trail Race. Held last Thursday on a windy and ‘fresh’ evening it’s always a favourite – not sure why as it’s always a tough full-gas race!  

The (now retired) Bannerman shield is our 2nd oldest trophy, dating back to 1898 when it was presented by one of the club’s early patrons A.G. Bannerman. The race format has evolved over the subsequent years and now takes the form or a 2-lap 5k’ish trail race in Dawsholm Park.

Sounds easy – a nice 5k 2-lap trail run in the park…… To be fair the first lap is generally ‘OK’ and ‘those’ sets of stairs don’t feel that bad…. until the 2nd lap when they bite hard!

It was shaping-up to be a good race – Kev was racing again (the last time he raced the Bannerman in 2018 he won it for the 2nd year in a row, with Craig 2nd), Scott was there (with good recent form & a club title already to his name), I was still trying to get some speed back into my legs after ultra training. We had our recent marathon crew (Derek, Amy, Cat & Natalie) – how had they all recovered & how fast where their legs post-marathons? Daria’s on an ever-upward trajectory with her running and then (Xmas Handicap Champ) Andrew rocks-up.  

Despite the cold, the surface conditions were ideal and generally dry – from the ‘off’ Kev, Scott & myself made our intentions clear and pulled clear, running in our group of 3 (although I was wary of where Andrew was as he’s always historically strong in XC). It was a cagey first lap with Scott taking the lead for the whole first lap, despite slowing down at one point to try and encourage myself & Kev to come through. We declined and sat on Scott’s shoulder for the first lap – cat & mouse stuff. On the steep descent at the start of the second lap Kev stretched his legs and took-off down the ramp – too dangerous to be allowed a gap I increased my pace and settled in behind him. Scott could be heard just behind us. A quick descent/jump down the stairs then it was onto the first set of uphill steps – I stayed right behind Kev for these then made my move just before the second set. I powered-up these as best as possible and tried to keep the effort high on the rest of the climb to the highest point of the course. That was enough to open-up a sufficient gap that I could manage until the finish line. Kev came in behind me with Scott just 7secs behind Kev – a great battle between the 3 of us with some good tactical running.

Some other battles were happening out on the course – Amy got her marathon legs going well and attacked the course. In their previous race encounters it was 1-each between Amy and Natalie – this time Amy was the victor and took the Women’s Bannerman title, with Natalie our 2nd female finisher. Derek was having another great run and was close to Amy – he also managed to stay 11secs clear of Andrew as well which made for a great run as Andrew is always one to keep an eye on. Stiff legs from football the night before took the edge off Andrew’s run but watch out for him at the forthcoming club trail race…

Cat and Daria were having a great tussle on the 2nd lap – coming into the open grassy park section at the end of the race they were neck & neck. Cat made her move and went past Daria only for Daria to then come back up to her and go past. They entered the final 100m side by side – Cat made what would be her final big effort and this was enough to just stay clear of Daria. Great stuff! Big shout-out to Daria – her training is clearly paying dividends and this was a great run.

Alisdair & Kenny were locked in combat as well with Kenny finishing 16 secs ahead of Alisdair. Chris and Margaret had each other in their sights during the race and finished close together with Chris coming out on top.

It was a great evening’s racing with a great turnout of harriers and supporters – thanks go out to our timekeepers and photographers Finn, Caroline & Heather. Thanks also to Kenny and Scott for flour-marking and checking the course beforehand – it was perfect, no-one got lost (lost harriers is generally the reserve of the club trail race 😊).

1st Craig 21.37 (Men’s Champion)

2nd Kevin 22.08

3rd Scott 22.15

4th Amy 23.15 (Women’s Champion)

5th Derek 23.38

6th Andrew 23.49

7th Natalie 24.05

8th Cat 27.03

9th Daria 27.11

10th Kenny 27.22

11th Alisdair 27.38

12th Chris 30.34

13th Margaret 31.08

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