You’ll probably think from the name that this race involves cake. You’d be right but you have to earn it over 10 miles and 1700ft of climbing.
I ran the Cake Race with Ally last year and it’s a tough one with some significant climbing to be done right from the start line (about 600ft in the first one and a bit miles) which immediately splits the field as you get up over Manchester road and onto the main race loop across the slabs on the moor.
Thanks to running the course last year and also the fact that it heads over towards Wessenden Trail it was a combination of route and local knowledge that meant I had a plan for the race and my goal was to run it in around 1 hour 20 which I felt was reasonably doable because I knew where I’d be able to push and where to conserve effort.
I took up the first climb reasonably comfortably at the back of a lead group of about 20 people with the usual speedsters disappearing at a pace that leaves me in awe every time. However, I knew there would probably be a few who, like me sometimes, went out too fast and would be reeled in later either on a couple of quite technical bits of the route or on the downhill of the same climb that finishes the loop for the race.
Miles 2-6 are some decent moorland running on the paving slabs and narrow trail and for the most part, I was running at about the same pace as the couple of guys in front (7:09, 6:28, 6:33, 6:11 min/miles) which then brings you to the fearsome Wessenden/Butterley Steps… For those who haven’t seen them, they run down the side of the reservoir spillway and then rather painfully back up the other side.
The steps are bad but as I noted last year, once you’ve got to the top of them, there’s still about 2 miles of climbing to do up the side of Marsden Golf Club and back up onto the moors before you finally head into the last mile and a half decent to the finish and I’d actually taken a gel with me and used it on the flat section just before the steps which did give me a little extra for the final slog.
I did manage to settle into a reasonable steady pace up the last couple of miles just making sure I left a little for the hair raising descent to the finish where I figured I might be able to gain a couple of places flying down but it wasn’t to be.
The guy I overtook easily on the first bit of the descent pulled me back as I forgot about the flattish couple of hundred meters in the middle and my legs and lungs just couldn’t quite keep going and he powered past me and the guy in front.
Still, 1:13:43 for 15th place and I’m thrilled with that and then a trip to the room of cakes! (It’s only £4 to enter the race or free if you bake a cake)
I love local races like this and the support and organisation are top notch and the entry fee and depth of field really make it impossible to beat. I’ll be back looking to knock a few minutes off next year!