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FIRST LADY! 🥇 Marple 10k Trail 2024 🖤❤️

⏱Time: 44:04

🥇First Lady!

🏃🏻‍♀️21 out of 298 overall

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 😍

On Sunday 16th June 2024, I finally got back to my happiest place and all-time favourite race: the Marple 10k Trail Run. 🥰

Over the past few years, June has become the month that I look forward to the most, solely attributable to this race. The Marple 10k usually falls the same week as the Lyme Park 10k, so I book a couple of days of work and stay at my Mum’s, making the most of being back in the unrivalled local countryside.

 

It goes without saying that the Marple 10k was an absolute joy, yet again.

The marshals at the Marple 10k are literally like your own personal hype team. I said this last year, but the Marple Runners make you feel more like a member of their family, rather than just a number at an event. They go out of their way to make every single runner feel special and seen.

            “Come on Marple, bring it home!”

            “Smashing it, Stockport Harriers!”

            “First Lady – well done!”

 (Especially big shout out to the lovely lady marshalling the canal bridge with her children, who started jumping up and down and ‘whooping’ when she saw me struggling up the hill. You are amazing!!)

It’s really no wonder that this race is so well loved.


 🖤❤️


I’m actually going to take this opportunity to big up the Marple 10k even more.

🖤 The BEST support and loveliest marshals? Check!

❤️ The BEST mascots? Check!

🖤 The BEST trail course, with a fantastic mix of terrains, challenges, and scenery? Check!

❤️ The BEST goodie bags in the business? Check! Check! Check! (Find me another race that hands out Beano comics!)

🖤 The BEST race in the calendar?  Without a doubt.

There are some fantastic local races that we’re so lucky to have on our doorstep, but the Marple 10k will always be my first choice, and that’s largely down to the community that the Marple Runners have created. It’s such an inclusive event, and the thing that stuck with me from my first time here two years ago is that participants are made to feel so welcome and valued.


Look how cute the socks are!! 😭😍🖤❤️

 

The race started at 10am, following a brilliant brief from the Race Director (‘don’t fall in the canal’ was a personal highlight! 🤣)

The Marple 10k course is sheer perfection. It’s tough, but the array of scenery helps to pass the time during the trickier sections and testing terrain.

I personally find the first, longer climb out of Brabyns Park more of a challenge than the steeper hill at Chadkirk, although the steps immediately after Chadkirk make for a bit of a killer combo, to say the least! 🥵

I’d also just like to apologise to the two gents who got caught up behind me at the downhill cobbled section on one of the trails. I know I was dithering, but for context, I succeeded in falling over on flat ground a couple of weeks ago, and had to walk around with deepheat on my tailbone for days. My weedy breadstick legs are an accident waiting to happen! 🤦🏻‍♀️🤣


Getting ready to go! 😍🖤❤️

I think my favourite part of the Marple 10k is the canal stretch, with its umbrella of oak trees overhead, dappling the reflections in the water’s surface. A close second is the woodland stretch at around 9k, and the way it bursts open to reveal the vast meadow of buttercups, shivering and vibrant beneath the morning drizzle.

The stillness of the woods contrasts with the shouts of support from the marshals waiting at the bottom of the hill, signalling one kilometre to go.

 

Those final few minutes of the Marple 10k are the highlight of my year, every year. ❤️

You leave the riverbank behind, take a right turn, and are instantly greeted by the final stretch up to the finish line. The cheering and support at this point is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The legends that are Dennis the Menace and Minnie the Minx stand at the side, handing out high-fives to power the last few seconds, while the spectators yell their encouragement. It’s the most uplifting and beautifully overwhelming atmosphere.

You can’t help but beam, despite the tired legs. All aches, pains and struggles are swiftly forgotten, as you’re lifted by the closest sensation to taking off and flying.

I always say that sprinting towards the finish line of a race is an almost out-of-body experience, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything else in the world that makes me feel so at one and at peace with my body.

It’s such a surreal, beguiling state of mind, and one that prevails against everything.


Take me back. 🥰


I couldn’t believe that I’d been lucky enough to finish as First Lady, for the second year on the bounce. 🥇

I completed the course in 44:04, which is sadly 8 seconds slower than last years’ time. (I’m going to blame this on the slippery mud sections, and the fact that I obviously wore road shoes. It’s becoming a bit of a long standing joke now really – I may as well sleep in them. I really need to get over my aversion to trail shoes before the Gritstone Grind Ultra, or I’ll be getting round on my bum! 🤣)

If only I could have put life into slow motion as I crossed the finish line. It all happens so fast; I wish I could take the time to break down and process every cheer, every clap, every step.

The spring of the grass beneath my feet.

The tidal wave of endorphins that flooded my veins.

The burst of my heart.

The coat of pride that I dared to drape across my shoulders.

The feeling of inner-strength, in both mind and body.

It’s heaven; every single element of it.

I’ll be forever staggered and humbled by the power of running, and how quickly it can alter your mind-set and supply you with the belief that you can.

You can do it.

You can keep going.

You can stand tall and outsmart the demons that have told you ‘no’ throughout your life.

 

My finish line photo perfectly captures the emotion I felt upon finishing the Marple 10k.

Of course, it was great to finish as First Lady, but my reaction would have likely still been the same if I’d placed last. Simply crossing that finish line and outrunning the internal hands that try to hold me back is euphoric and liberating enough.


 No, I wasn’t being sick 🤣 I was just indescribably happy ❤️


I’ll never forget the first time I placed First Lady. It was at the Tatton Park 10k back in September 2021, and it remains to be one of the most magical days I’ve ever known. The song that will forever remind of that morning is ‘One Day Like This,’ by Elbow.

I’d only been racing a matter of months, and was still in the early stages of changing my relationship with running from negative to positive, after years of anorexia using it a tool to control and punish me.

All those years that anorexia had forced me to relentlessly and painstakingly pound the pavements in a bid to burn off every calorie… It had never occurred to me that I was actually an alright runner, and that I’d one day find freedom in the pursuit.

I remember just sobbing with happiness at the finish line of the Tatton 10k. I couldn’t fathom that the body I’d hated and bullied for so long was capable of sourcing such an intense wave of pride.

That feeling has never left me, and it doesn’t just surface when I place highly at an event. It hits me every time I run, whether that’s at a race, or out on my own at 6 o’clock in the morning.

It’s looking like a beautiful day… One day a year like this a year would see me right, for life…” How lucky I am to be able to experience a day like that, multiple times a week, each time I lace up my trainers.

Without a doubt, the Marple 10k was certainly ‘one day like this.’

Gorgeous medal! 😍


There’s actually another reason as to why the Marple 10k means so much to me: it was the first race my Mum ever came to, and was consequently the first time she’d ever seen me run with passion and for the sheer love of it, rather than because anorexia made me do it. It was nice for her to see me enjoying a different side to running.

 

I recently heard a motivational sports quote, and I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since:

“You need a WHY, because that WHY is going to push you when you can’t push yourself. There’s going to be days when you don’t want to get up, and that WHY is going to tell you, GET UP.”

This perfectly sums how I feel about running. It really is my ‘WHY.’ It’s my constant in a turbulent world, and has quite unexpectedly birthed some of the best days of my life.

Sunday, at the Marple 10k, was another such day to add to my ever-growing collection of reasons why I’m eternally honoured to have found this sport, this community, and this life.

Quite simply, when I run, I feel like I’m home. ❤️


Cara Jasmine Bradley


🖤❤️Marple Runners: https://www.marplerunners.com/

📸Professional photos by Mick Hall: https://www.mickhall-photos.com/

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