The Main Event

The Mac­cles­field Half Marathon proves to be more of a meal than a morsel for Scott Reeves

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The Mac­cles­field Half Marathon

Con­spir­acy the­o­rists know all about the Ber­muda Tri­an­gle and its dis­ap­pear­ing air­craft, but I doubt very much they are fa­mil­iar with the Golden Tri­an­gle, where PBS van­ish mys­te­ri­ously. It’s in Mac­cles­field, but the lo­cals may not even know of its ex­is­tence.

I too was bliss­fully ig­no­rant, as the Mac­cles­field Half Marathon started so well. I joined a lit­tle over 550 run­ners in a lap-and-ahalf of the athletics track at the leisure cen­tre be­fore head­ing into the town it­self. For­merly part of the North’s in­dus­trial heart­land, and the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer of silk, Mac­cles­field is now a thor­oughly pleas­ant com­muter town within strik­ing dis­tance of Manch­ester. Af­ter a quick tour of the town cen­tre we headed out into the leafy

QUICK OFF THE MARK A fast start on an athletics track is tempt­ing, but not ter­ri­bly wise.

en­vi­rons of Cheshire, where, my re­search had told me, real money lives in great lux­ury.

At this point, about four miles in, I be­gan to get ex­cited. I’d gone out a tad fast (athletics tracks will do that) and my watch was telling me I was on for a time I had not run in many years, maybe even a PB.

We were mak­ing our way to­wards Prest­bury, a pretty vil­lage that forms one cor­ner of Cheshire’s Golden Tri­an­gle, north­west of Mac­cles­field. The other cor­ners of the tri­an­gle are Alder­ley Edge and Wilm­slow and the area within is one of the most af­flu­ent in the coun­try. As if to mark our cross­ing into the fa­bled Tri­an­gle, I turned a cor­ner and spot­ted a gleam­ing red Fer­rari. I was too fo­cused on my mile splits to no­tice who was driv­ing but there was a small chance it could have been Wayne Rooney, Rio Fer­di­nand, Joe Hart, Yaya Touré or any one of the gazil­lion foot­ballers who live in th­ese parts; in fact, another nick­name for the area is the Foot­baller Belt.

While we didn’t ac­tu­ally run down the nearby Within­lee Road – the most ex­pen­sive street out­side of south­ern Eng­land, with an av­er­age house price of £1.65 mil­lion – we did speed past a pre­pos­ter­ous num­ber of massive cast-iron gates guard­ing drive­ways that were so long and wind­ing the houses at the end of them were not vis­i­ble to us.

Try­ing to work out which man­sion might be­long to which celebrity (would Noddy Holder go for lion pil­lar tops?) served as a dis­trac­tion only for so long, be­cause at the half­way point the first of two climbs hove into view. Some hills rely on a short but bru­tal in­cline to wreak their havoc; this one took a more pa­tient ap­proach. We must have run steadily up a five per cent gra­di­ent for over a mile be­fore crest­ing the top, where I looked ea­gerly for a glimpse of Jo­drell Bank, the space ob­ser­va­tory with tele­scopes trained on the cos­mos. The vista was par­tially spoiled by the tra­di­tional north­ern weather – it was rain­ing by this stage – but there was no mis­tak­ing the out­line of the gar­gan­tuan 3,200-tonne Lovell Te­le­scope, the third-largest of its kind in the world. The rain min­gled with sweat and stung my eyes, but I could still see miles of un­du­la­tions stretch­ing out in front of me, in­clud­ing, in the dis­tance, a second large climb. Time to dig in. As we skirted Wilm­slow I put my head down and fo­cused on my ca­dence in­stead of try­ing to see if Sir Alex Fer­gu­son was out walk­ing his dogs.

The ex­cited hope I might be on for a shiny new PB now seemed an aw­fully long time ago; I’d en­tered the Tri­an­gle on course for a PB but was now leav­ing it won­der­ing if I’d even make it to the fin­ish – or if that PB had ever ex­isted. Eas­ing back into Mac­cles­field it­self I de­cided sim­ply to slow down, en­joy the throng of sup­port­ers as we neared the fin­ish and then give it the gun on the fi­nal stretch back on the track.

No mat­ter how many times you do them, sta­dium fin­ishes are al­ways thrilling and any race that in­cludes one gets a big tick from me, but the Macc Half, as the lo­cals call it, has much more than that, in­clud­ing a tough course, plenty to look at, a touch of re­flected glam­our, pretty slick or­gan­i­sa­tion and a real com­mu­nity spirit out on the roads. It would have been nice to see a few fa­mous types high­fiv­ing run­ners and wav­ing foam fin­gers by the side of the road, but I guess you can’t have ev­ery­thing.

IF YOU’RE SO INCLINED Run­ners make an as­cent dur­ing the Mac­cles­field Half Marathon.

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