Gone with the Wind – along with 2,499 Mad Dogs!
The Mad Dog 10K race in Southport is regularly mentioned in the Runner’s World magazine as one of the top ten races in the UK. So when my friend Lisa said that she had done the race, loved it and was doing it again in 2016, I had no hesitation in signing up for the 6th Mad Dog race billed as “Raiders of the Lost Bark”. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about because most races are well organised and have a great atmosphere so what’s so special about this one?
I was feeling a bit smug as I have managed to stay germ and sniffle free, even after Helsby half marathon so I was looking forward to the race. The gods of smug decided to cut me down to size because I came down with something viral last Wednesday and spent most of Thursday alternating between sleeping and shivering under a blanket on the sofa. It looked like my Mad Dog adventure was doomed.
By Saturday, I had a bit of a cough but nothing major and I decided that I would go to the race and take it easy. (Disclaimer: this is against current medical advice that says you should run only if you have a head cold.) The weather forecast was very changeable in the days leading to the race but the one thing that was constant was the wind speed – gusts of around 40mph were expected. Not a good thing where the run is along the coast road! Thankfully the rain stayed away and the sun even came out.
There was a park and ride scheme to get us to the start. We didn’t have long to wait for a bus to take us to the high school which doubled as race HQ, baggage drop and T shirt collection. It was extremely busy there but the scouts doing the baggage drop were very efficient. There were the usual long queues for the toilets but luckily we had gone in the portaloos in the carpark. Although at this point, I felt like I needed to go again but put it down to pre-race nerves and decided not to bother…a decision I had a tinge of regret about later in the race…
As we lined up at the start, the atmosphere was great, despite the strong winds. We had given our PBs for the distance and all runners were sorted out in Greyhounds, Dalmatians, Huskies, Labradors or Bulldogs. My bib said I was a Husky although I didn’t feel like a Husky and as I said on social media the night before, more like a snuffly Bulldog! With the race organiser asking everyone to howl and “Who let the dogs out?” playing on the sound system, we were off.
The first thing that we noticed was a strong cross wind that actually blew me sideways at one point. We then turned the corner and it was a case of heads down and get on with it! The bands playing at the side of the road helped enormously to get through it as did Pelvis Presley who I high fived. It really was a relentless wind and I have never been so glad to turn a corner and have the wind behind me in all my life.
Once out of the headwind, I began to feel a bit uncomfortable and wished that I had braved the long queues for the portaloos. As luck would have it at that point in the race, there were some toilets. Hurrah! As any thought of a PB had been dashed by my illness and the strong winds, I decided that comfort would win over pride today. My Garmin suggested I only took 20 seconds to stop but it felt a lot longer! My Garmin also told me that in the second 5km of the race, each kilometre was 20 seconds faster than the first 5km, showing the power of the wind.
I made it back in 58.23, a performance that I was content with given the winds, the comfort break and the cold which forced me to take it easy. The goody bag,or the doggy bag, was immense. There was an energy drink which I gave to Lisa and I seemed to be missing a sachet of body lotion which Lisa had in her bag but there was much more than I have ever seen in any other goody bag. The T shirt (it glows in the dark) and medal are also ace (I really must get a medal hanger sorted out!)
My only minor quibble was that I queued for water at the finish and it ran out before I got any. They were using the camping water containers and they were very slow to dispense the water so I think that was why the queue had built up. I can see that this would be more environmentally friendly than giving out bottles of water and it wasn’t so much of an issue in February when it was not hot.
This is a minor point in a race that was extremely well run by the Round Table in Southport and supported by the community. And I think that answers my initial question as to why it is so special: it is a community effort, put together for everyone’s benefit and to raise lots of money for charity.
Next year’s race is already named – Mad Dog 007 – Live and Let Drool! I liked the suggestion on its Facebook page this morning that it could also have been called The Man with the Golden Retriever. If you can get the Bond super villain to control the wind for next year, that would be awesome and I will see you there.