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2023 Running Roundup 🥇❤️🏃🏻‍♀️



‘Some fairytale bliss, just something I can turn to… I want something just like this.’

✨❤️🏃🏻‍♀️


The 2023 running season has taken me to heaven.

I finally got back to running 40-minute 10ks, I achieved my goal of running a sub-90-minute half marathon, and I had 7 podium finishes!

 

My 2023 Podium Finishes

 

🥇1st Lady at the Stockport Hatters Half Marathon

 

🥇1st Lady at the Marple Trail 10k

 

🥈2nd Lady at the Stockport Trail Half Marathon

 

🥈2nd Lady at the Lyme Park Half Marathon

 

🥈2nd Lady at the Sandbach 10k

 

🥉3rd Lady at the Macclesfield Half Marathon

 

🥉3rd Lady at the Tatton Park 10k

 

My 2023 Race Results

 

1.     Stockport Daffodil 10k 🌼

Time: 42:21

Overall position: 108/1030

Female position: 15/491

Age category position: 12/160

 

This was my first race of season, and my first time on this course.

Organised by Sports Feet in Hazel Grove, the Stockport Daffodil 10k is an exciting race that boasted some insanely good runners.

The course was an out-and-back, and it was thrilling to watch the elites explode down the bypass at a dizzying pace as the rest of us ambled along, about 5k behind.

I also just need to mention the post-race goodie bag, which was up there with some of the best I have ever received, containing bath gel, socks and sweets!

 



2.     Stockport Trail Half Marathon 🥈

Time: 01:30:21

Overall position: 25/278

Female position: 2/105

Age category position: 2/36

 

This was a PB for me at the time, knocking two minutes off my 1:32 time achieved at the Brussels Half Marathon over in Belgium in October 2022.

 


Top 3 ladies at the Stockport Trail Half Marathon 💪🏼


3.     Alderley Edge Bypass 10k

Time: 40:51

Overall position: 135/1399

Female position: 14/549

Age category position: 6/154

 

Always a treat in my race calendar, the Alderley Edge Bypass is mostly flat, and all on road, which suits me perfectly. This was my first sub-41 minute 10k since September 2021, and gave me the confidence to believe that my sub-40 goal isn’t so far away after all…



Alderley Edge Bypass: back to running 40-minute 10ks! 🥳


4.     Tatton Park 10k 🥉

Time: 41:32

Overall position: 23/340

Female position: 3/143

Age category position: 2/58

 

This seems to be my lucky course! I’ve placed first, second and third here over the years!


 

5.     Buxton Half Marathon

Time: 01:35:37

Overall position: 43/392

Female position: 5/121

Age category position: 2/34

 

Okay, so, we need to talk about ‘that’ first hill…

My GOD.

If it hadn’t been for the mind-blowing scenery, I think I would have burst into tears at about 5k in!

If you’re looking for a challenge, THIS is the race for you!

 


I was smiling at Buxton... but my calves were crying 🤣


6.     Marple Trail 10k 🥇

Time: 43:53

Overall position: 24/307

Female position: 1/117

Age category position: 1/43

 

I was absolutely over the moon to place First Lady at the Marple Trail 10k, as it’s my favourite event of all time.

Marple Runners are honestly just the nicest, most welcoming club, and taking part in their event is a real pleasure.

I mean, where else would Dennis the Menace present you with your medal?

Where else would you find an actual Beano comic in your post-race goodie bag?

 

 

First Lady @ Marple 😊❤️🥇


7.     Lyme Park Midsummer Trail 10k

Time: 48:09

Overall position: 46/927

Female position: 6/455

Age category position: 3/81

 

Although this wasn’t a podium finish, it was still my proudest achievement of the season.

As it was a Run North West event, there were a number of brilliant runners out, so to finish 6th lady over a notoriously tough trail course was something I could have never imagined!

I also had a throat infection!

This is a tough little course, but equally as rewarding. The tranquil setting and staggering views make every calf-cramping hill so worth it.

I took three minutes off my previous year’s time, and couldn’t have asked for more.

 

My Mum actually came to watch me take part in this event, and it was amazing to see her waiting by the finishing arch as I bombed it down the path next to the lake.


 One of my fave race pics... my smile says it all. Happy to see my Mum cheering me on, and happy to have finished 6th, knocking 3 minutes off my time from the previous event! ❤️


8.     Reykjavik Midnight Sun Half Marathon (in Iceland)

Time: 01:39:26

Overall position: 59/560

Female position: 8/245

Age category position: 6/55

 

Sadly the most disappointing race of the season for me.

Don’t get me wrong – the experience was phenomenal! How many people can say that they have been lucky enough to run through the night, under 24-hour sunlight, in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? The scenery was absolutely astonishing, with waterfalls seemingly popping up out of nowhere beside the fairytale-quality trails we ran along.

The weather, however, was not on side, and it absolutely battered it down for the full 13 miles, the wind hampering my hopes of a PB.

I was still suffering with a throat infection and couldn’t stop coughing.

Running at such an obscure time also didn’t seem to suit me, and I was plagued by constant stitches and an overwhelming feeling of sickness that refused to subside.

I was so gutted with my time – a 9 minute increase on my PB.


 Windswept and soaked in Iceland... and it was 11pm on this picture - look how light it was!


9.     Lyme Park Trail Half Marathon 🥈

Time: 02:00:43

Overall position: 21/334

Female position: 2/58

Age category position: Unknown

 

I managed to redeem my Icelandic disappointment a few weeks later at the Lyme Park Trail Half Marathon. Now, I know a 2-hour finishing time might sound pretty appalling given the half hour increase on my PB… But I salute anyone who makes it round this course without ‘DNF’infg’! Oh my God… I mean, I should have been prepared for the horrors of those hills, given the fact that I’ve walked the Gritstone Trail multiple times… It wasn’t like I didn’t know what to expect, but WOW, running it was something else! I half expected to pass through the finisher’s arch carrying my actual lung in my hand.

I didn’t really help myself by wearing road shoes and insisting on carrying round a needlessly ma-hoosive rucksack…

 



10.  Wilmslow Summer 10k

Time: 41:41

Overall position: 408/2,530

Female position: 48/1,080

Age category position: 20/289

 

After 4 attempts, I finally ran this course in sub-42 minutes!

Always a ‘fab,’ lively atmosphere at Run North West events, and the medal this year really exceeded itself!


 The best medal ever? I think so! 😍


11.  Sandbach Striders 10k 🥈

Time: 42:33

Overall position: 15/263

Female position: 2/117

Age category position: Unknown

 

Another firm favourite of mine! Great club, great event.

Sadly, I unable to retain my ‘First Female’ crown from last year, but did manage to slip into second place, giving me yet another podium finish.

 

At the starting line of the Sandbach 10k ✨


12.  Stockport Hatters Half Marathon 🥇

Time: 01:31:56

Overall position: 24/329

Female position: 1/97

Age category position: 1/39

 

I’ve been lucky enough to place First Lady in a few 5k and 10ks over the past two years, but never a Half Marathon… Until this race!

A cancelled bus and a late train meant that I very nearly didn’t make it to the starting line of this event...

I arrived with just 15 minutes to go until the start, feeling flustered and stressed. The last thing I felt like doing after a frenzied dash from the train station was a half marathon in boiling temperatures, but I tried to re-focus myself and get into the zone.

… It worked! Despite the treacherous terrain and the heat, I overtook the amazing initial first place lady at around 11k to take the win!

 


Dreams do come true. ❤️🥇


13.  Knutsford 10k

Time: 40:36

Overall position: 300/2,598

Female position: 31/1,111

Age category position: 10/278

 

Don’t even talk to me about this absolute disaster!

I’d been in touch with the 40-minute pacer before the event to discuss a strategy to finally run my much desired sub-40 10k. I met up with him on the starting line and vowed to stick with him as much as I could out on the course.

… Didn’t happen. I managed to keep up until around 6k, when I started to fade. I regained a bit of energy at 8k, but by that time, I’d slipped too far back in the field to catch back up with the 40-minute pack.

I was relatively pleased with my time, which was my third fastest 10k, EVER, and just 12 seconds away from my PB.

I WILL reach my sub-40 dream if it bloody kills me!


DRENCHED after the Knutsford 10k, but happy with a time of 40:36 🥰


14.  Macclesfield Half Marathon 🥉

Time: 01:29:18 (NEW PB!)

Overall position: 22/505

Female position: 3/172

Age category position: 2/69

 

Let’s forget sub-40 10ks for now, and instead talk about SUB 90 MINUTE HALF MARATHONS!!

Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to achieve this goal on this course!

I’d never run this event before, but had been warned how hilly it was. With this in mind, I was aiming for a time of around 1:35, in-line with Buxton.

My running friends had not been wrong… ‘Hilly’ was a bloody understatement! Don‘t get me wrong, it wasn’t hilly on the same level as Lyme Park or Buxton. They didn’t have us slogging up any mountain ranges – the hills weren’t particularly drastic, but they were CONSTANT.

I don’t know why I expected anything less of Macclesfield, to be honest!

 

There’s no way I would have been able to achieve my PB and run sub-90 minutes without Michael Slack, the incredible 1:30 pacer. I started to fade and slip back with around 4k to go, and Michael kept me sane. I was that knackered I could barely even speak by 20k, but Michael made sure that I kept going to smash my goal.

 


Finishing with a PB at Macc! There's Michael the absolute legend behind me! 😊


 15.  Tatton Park Half Marathon

Time: 01:29:38

Overall position: 109/1,251

Female position: 16/454

Age category position: 3/240

 

… Just a few weeks ago, running a sub-90 minute half marathon was just a distant dream, and then I went on to do it twice on the bounce!

I was amazed with my time over the course, as there was a lot against us as runners on the day. For one, the weather was revolting, and the rain relentless. The one hill on the Tatton course is a wind tunnel on the clearest of days, so you can only imagine how tough it was on a bleak, stormy November morning.

The off-road sections were peppered with puddles, and the lane just outside the park was completely waterlogged. We had two choices: gingerly pick our way around the edge while the minutes ticked on, or charge straight through the middle of it. I opted for the latter, and as a result, my trainers still have that delicious faint whiff of puddle… Ahhh, the joys of being a runner, ha!

It was also pretty hard to get any sort of pace up during the second lap, as the half marathon runners joined the 10k competitors, so it all got a bit congested.

I didn’t time my run and all the way round, I was expecting a time of 1:35-ish. Another sub-90 minute was a lovely surprise!


Drenched again, but buzzing with another sub-90 half marathon! 🤩


16.  Stockport 10 Mile

Time: 01:09:00

Overall position: 111/657

Female position: 11/234

Age category position: 8/81

 

What a gorgeous race to end the season on!

 

I absolutely love the Stockport 10 Mile and the brilliant camaraderie along the course.

Storms absolutely battered the town the night before the race, and I wasn’t even sure if it was going to go ahead. Thank God it did, because I had such a wonderful morning. The Stockport 10 Mile is the perfect event to kickstart the Christmas celebrations, and is my new favourite festive tradition.

I met my lovely friend Natalie in the morning, and we walked down to Woodbank Park together.

Last year, I came in 12th female, so it was my mission to get into the top 10 females this time. Unfortunately, I just missed out again, finishing 11th, but knocking 1 minute 38 seconds off last year’s time was a good consolation.


 With my friend Natalie before the Stockport 10 Mile 💛

My current PBs


⏱ 5k - 20:32

⏱ 10k - 40:24

⏱ Half Marathon - 01:29:14

⏱ Full Marathon - 03:32:00


My Running Goals for 2024

 

  • Run a sub-40-minute 10k (honestly, if this doesn’t happen soon, I really will weep!)

  • Run a sub-20-minute 5k

  • Complete my first ultra-marathon (I’m entered into the Gritstone Grind 56k trail ultra in September!)

  • Run at least 40 Half Marathons over the course of the year. (I've done 41 this year so far, so hopefully I'll be able to repeat this in 2024!)

 

‘I want something just like this…’ ✨❤️

 

I honestly feel so overwhelmed with emotion every time I think about running, and how much it continues to change and shape my life for the better.

It’s given me more confidence and inner elation than I ever imaged it possible to experience. I am genuinely SO grateful for every single step run.

 I'll NEVER take running and it's remarkable healing powers for granted. It means more to me than anyone will ever understand.


The back end of 2023 has been somewhat ‘turbulent’ for me, but running remains my constant, my happiest place, my escape.

I don’t know how running does it, but it just has the ability to make me feel almost invincible to all of life's dark days. With running in my armoury, there's nothing I can't overcome.


This year, I’ve come to the comforting, empowering realisation that whatever happens in life, I will always have running... and I truly couldn't ask for more. ❤️


My 2023 medal collection😍🥇🥈🥉


Cara Jasmine Bradley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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