RUN: Alley Cats Take Over Manchester

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Often I wonder whether I spread my fitness-self a little thinly: a little yoga here, a run or two there, never missing a leg day in the gym. Maybe if I concentrated on one aspect of my fitness I could be really, really good at one thing rather than being alright at lots of things. But, you know what? I really enjoy doing different stuff every day despite the fact I’ll never top a half marathon or powerlifting podium.

On Saturday night, though, I ran a race that took all of the activities I love – endurance, strength, flexibility and speed – and rolled them all into one. The Still Waters Run Deep Alley Cat run. This nighttime race was celebrating a year of the Still Waters running crew, and although I knew the run was a nine-miler with a difference, I had no idea what to expect. Arriving to register I quizzed some of the other runners who were also in the dark. I spotted this board, and it soon became evident that it wouldn’t be just our running legs we’d be using…

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Finally we were given maps and briefed on the run. Three checkpoints were dotted around the city (one of which was split into four) and we had to run out to the checkpoint, get recorded by a volunteer, then run back to the run’s base, Train, to complete one of the CrossFit challenges above – this happened three times over. The checkpoints included a long hill run, a sprint hill run three times over, then heading to four Manchester landmarks.

Anxiety started to take hold of me a little. I was worried I’d be the slowest to run the 9 miles anyway – run crews are notoriously fast! – but to do these frankly pretty tough challenges in the middle got me quivering in my Nikes. Thankfully we were split into small teams according to our 10K times and I ran with two awesome guys, Simon – who pushed the pace and kept us going – and Shao, who kept us safe and ran beside me.

Running through the city on a Saturday night was incredible. The drunken crowds were confused and we had everything from chavs hurling abuse to groups of girls cheering us on. There was a huge sense of comradery upon spotting another group of Alley Cats, always accompanied with whoops and high-fives.

I loved it – by far the greatest run I’ve taken part in. Not only did I complete the nine miles (more like 11 by the time we’d finished, whoops!) and smash through the CrossFit exercises, I found out this afternoon I was actually the fastest woman to complete the entire race, challenges included.

My mind is blown. Never did I expect – it never even entered my mind – that I would possibly even get close to winning anything. But it is because I work all the spheres of my fitness, working my weaknesses as well as playing to my strengths, that I was able to not only survive but thrive.

Slow and steady may not win the race, but strong and steady definitely has a good shot.

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Top image from the Still Waters Run Deep Instagram. Tough to tell, but that is me and my team – you can tell from the neon kicks!

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