On Sunday 20th November 2022, I took part in the legendary Stockport 10 Mile race (fondly known as simply the STK10).
The race has been established for years and has a really great reputation within the running community, and it's not hard to see why!
I had initially planned to do this race last year, but was written off all winter with my knee injury. All I can say is that it was definitely worth the wait!
I absolutely LOVED the STK10. I actually still feel like I’m on a bit of a high!
In all honesty, prior to the race, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.
I never determine my runs by miles, always kilometres, and I don’t think I have ever run a 16k on its own before. So timings wise, I really didn’t know what to aim for.
I knew the course was going to be mixed terrain ‘with a few hills to keep things lively’ as the pre-race emails had hauntingly warned... 🤣 Again, I knew this would have an effect on my time as road is my preferred surface.
I decided that I would aim for around 1 hour & 20 minutes. There were so many good runners out, so I dispelled all fantasies of coming in the top 20 females...
I vowed to just take part and enjoy the run without pushing myself too much.
The race village was located at the Athletic Facility in Woodbank Park, home to the Stockport Harriers.
I often see the Stockport Harriers at various running events and they are just something else. ‘Rapid’ isn’t even the word!! At pretty much every race, they can be seen swarming the front of the field; a mirage in yellow bibs.
Their home turf made for one of the best race villages I have ever attended. The spotless and spacious changing rooms (complete with lockers and showers, OMG!) felt like such a luxury, and the running track was thrilling.
There were loads of running clubs at the event; the fab Chorlton Runners were out in force, and I spotted the awesome black and red hooped vests of Marple Runners, too. (I can't wait to run their event again next year. If you're a local runner, I honestly can't recommend the Marple 10k Trail Race highly enough! Lovely people and flawless organisation. Plus, a Beano comic in your post-race goodie bag!! 😍)
The STK10 course was SENSATIONAL!! Hats off to whoever mapped that route!
I particularly liked the beginning and end sections through Woodbank Park, which was looking stunning in all of its Autumnal glory.
Running down the country lanes alongside the River Goyt was also pretty special.
I think the course had the perfect combination of scenery, terrain and elevation. It was testing in parts, yes, but that made the completion all the more rewarding! The hills were tough, but were almost-certainly counteracted by the flat road sections.
Woodbank Park looking beautiful 🥰
When I ran the Stockport Urban 5k last September, I noted the community spirit out on the course - not just between runners, but also including passersby and locals. The STK10 beheld that same community feel.
The route incorporated quite a few estates and it was so lovely to see people hanging out of their windows and standing in their gardens to cheer us on. Dog walkers shouted their encouragement on the country lanes, and drivers beeped their horns in support as we raced along the road.
It felt as though the whole town was behind us.
(There was an also an absolute LEGEND of a man holding out a ginormous bowl of Fruit Pastilles for the runners. Not all heroes wear capes!) 😍
The marshals were wonderful. They were there at every integral point of the course to guide us and keep an eye on the busy traffic so we could concentrate on our running instead of constantly looking behind us. They were all so full of enthusiasm and banter which was priceless, especially when the mid-run lag started to kick in.
One of the marshals commented on the fact that I was still smiling, even at mile 9. I think I must subconsciously smile when I’m running, which probably makes me look a bit mental tbh 🤣
But honestly, the inexplicable happiness that overwhelms me when I run is just so hard to contain.
I know I’ve said this before, but sometimes I feel capable of actually taking off.
The happiness is just unrivalled ❤️
My fellow STK10 runners were also a really nice bunch. I lost count of the amount of times someone checked in on me with a breathless but much appreciated, “You okay?” as we passed one another, or a call of, “Well done, keep going!” as we tackled the hills together.
On the first hill at mile 5, a gentleman up in-front slowed to a walk and I watched as other runners patted him on the back and cheered him on until he got going again.
We really do have the very best community in the world. ❤️
The STK10 was such a pleasure to run, and I enjoyed every single second of it!
Well... Almost every single second...
I kept overhearing terrified-sounding whispers about ‘the hill at mile 8’ which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
I got speaking to a lady out on the course who said she’d done the race a few times before.
“Is there... Is there a hill at mile 8?” I dared to ask, not really wanting to know the answer.
Her face darkened.
“Yes - ‘the’ hill. It goes on forever. Keep some in the tank!”
And when said hill came into view, my heart plummeted.
It was the formidable New Zealand Road hill – the one I became well acquainted with during the Stockport Urban 5k last year.
Hello darkness my old friend...
There was nothing else for it but to plough on.
My calves are still refusing to speak to me. 🤣
“Well done, 12th lady!” One of the marshals shouted as I careered back into the park.
... I wasn't running for a place in the top 10, but after hearing that, I did allow myself to dream!
In that moment, I so desperately wanted to try for top 10. However, I couldn’t even see the 11th lady, so I knew I didn’t stand a chance. Sadly, it wasn't going to be a Sandbach 10k situ, where I came from behind as 5th female to finish first. Still, I never, ever expected to come anywhere near the top 20 females, so I can’t really be disappointed with 12th place!
I completed the final mile and bounded onto the track, enjoying the novelty of it and pretending to be an Olympic athlete going for Gold (if you’re a runner and you claim you don’t do this, I don’t believe you 🤣).
I finished feeling surprisingly strong and was over the moon with my time and position: 1 hour & 10 minutes, and 12th female out of 180! 7th out of 55 in my age category!
An amazing new medal for my collection 😍
I was really dreading winter running, but going out for a rainy, late night 10k over the past few weeks has been so liberating and invigorating.
Headphones blaring, mud-spattered claves, a wind-kissed face, and hair soaked with jewelled droplets of rain... It's all part of the thrill of being a runner, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
I recently posted a blog about where I’m at in my anorexia journey. I shared that it’s my aim to gain four more pounds by January.
It’s early days, but I’m pleased to report that so far, so good. 😊 I’m not going to do anything drastic because I know from past experience that this will result in a panic and will just set me back. But it’s little things like giving my body the rest day it craves, and having some Jelly Tots or Pretzels without guilt while watching I’m A Celeb - the easing of my strict restrictions and routine are all small steps in the right direction.
And you know what? I can already feel the difference within myself. My body seems to be getting stronger every day, and this is being showcased in my running.
Running is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s changed my life, and it's an honour to have it as my weaponry against anorexia.
Getting into racing and partaking in running events has provided me with such a valuable insight into my body, and it has totally changed everything in terms of my anorexia.
It’s incredible to feel my body grow in strength as I learn how to fuel it properly and treat it with respect. And in return, I am rewarded with mornings like the one of the STK10.
Running through Woodbank Park under the canopy of opulent oak trees during mile 9 of the event was a moment that will raise me up for a long time. I wish every second could consist of such wealth, joy and pride.
That feeling of ‘I did it!’ Is even sweeter when you’ve had to run through adversity, especially when that adversity is in your own head.
Cara Jasmine Bradley
#stockport10 #stockport10mile #stk10 #stockportharriers
✨ STK10: https://stk10.co.uk ✨
✨ Stockport Harriers: https://stockportharriers.co.uk ✨
✨ Amazing professional photos by APN Sports Photography: http://apnsportsphotography.photodeck.com/m ✨
✨Read my book 'Running For My Life: An Anorexia Memoir & Self-Help Guide' HERE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0B35FHK97/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_bibl_vppi_i2