One of our most popular UK Running events is only a few weeks away, we can’t wait to see the runners take on the Tour of Tameside. This is a unique running challenge that consists of 4 stages across 4 days. The event consists of a 10k, a fell race, a half marathon and a 7 mile race to finish. Here at Sports Tours International we love how the Running Bee Foundation events bring together local communities, it’s great to see that so many runners have a different story to tell. A group who are regular Tour of Tameside finishers who have a great story to tell are Daddies Escape, a Tameside based running group who are all dads who like nothing better than to slip on a pair of running shoes and pound the streets, come rain, snow or shine. We spoke with one of their runners Peter and found out more about this fantastic running group. So over to you Peter…
“This year will be my fourth complete Tour of Tameside and without a doubt, it’s the thing I most look forward to on the running calendar. My running story is probably not unique but I think it’s best I explain it first as it may ring some bells with people who are looking to start…
I’d played 5-a-side football until I was 42 years old and loved every second. Then one night at Copley, I just had a ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ moment, triggered by the fact we were getting battered by superior opposition. But underneath all that, my love for it had completely gone. I’d also read that the average person, after the age of 40, puts on about one pound in weight a year. I don’t know how true this is but it struck a chord with me and decided to look for something else to keep myself healthy.
My son’s birthday coincided with the day of the London Marathon in 2009. But we weren’t there to run; we were there to see the Natural History Museum of all things. As we sat on the open-top bus, out of the blue I said “I’d love to one day run a marathon” and my wife Janet simply said “Well why don’t you?” Simple, but effective words!
I bought some cheap trainers and started to run round the block but coughed and spluttered after about a mile. I hated it but stuck at it and then started to find it easier. I ran a few times a week then gradually I improved and, to my surprise, started to really enjoy it!
I entered a 5 mile fun-run in Heaton Park and really struggled, but finished. My wife is coeliac and I applied for a charity place for London for Coeliac UK and was amazed to get a place. Just 5 months after starting running, I found myself with a place in the London Marathon for 2010! I’d only ran 10K’s (6.21 miles) then I needed to be able to run another 20 on top of that!
One of my first 10K runs was the Sports Tours International ‘City of Manchester 10K’ in 2009, where I ran 50:12 and was pipped by my hero Dr Ron Hill (49.48) at the finish. He is a real running ambassador, an absolute gentleman and we had a photo together at the end which I truly appreciated.
I continued to run alone for the next 6 years, entering races far and wide. It never occurred to me to run with others but through entering lots of events, I kept on bumping into the same people and one in particular; Frankie Yan. He was in a running group of friends called ‘Daddies Escape’ which, as the name shows, is a group of dads who manage to escape for some ‘me time’. Frankie suggested I came for a run and I remember approaching it with great trepidation as I thought I would be really slow and not fit in. The reality was far from it.
One cold and frosty morning in late October 2016, at 6am at Flowery Fields railway station, I met up with Frankie, Liam Mellon and Shaun Chambers. We made acquaintance, shook hands and set off. This was so new to me. The pace was a bit quicker than usual for me but I liked it. The conversation and banter added a new dimension, a new pleasure to running that I’d never experienced. We discussed which races we’d done and I found that Liam and Frankie had done the Tour of Tameside that June just like me. It’s so weird to think that we probably ran together over the four days without even knowing each other!
Daddies Escape, despite not being officially affiliated with UK Athletics, has only grown in size. We continue to enjoy social runs but amongst us there are some really competitive and capable runners. We don’t have a set night, we just use WhatsApp to post a suggested time and place and then anyone who fancies it can turn up or not. People have come and gone but the main focus of friendship and encouragement (in that order) remains. Work commitments sometimes mean we meet at 6am and do 4 miles before work. It just sets you up for the day!
This year, I plan to run my fourth consecutive Tour of Tameside. As I sit here at my office desk, I look to my right and see my glass prism with embedded runners from 2016, my tour tankard (with a bottle of Stella emptied into it!) and my Dr Ron Hill signed certificate from the summer of 2018. These are treasured mementoes but so are the memories of the camaraderie, friendship, laughs and experiences from each and every one.
As the Tour week approaches, I tone down my training and ‘load my legs’ as I call it. All day at work on the first Thursday (X-Trail 10K), that’s all that is on my mind, with one eye on the next few days. When I open my Google Sheets doc of runs and races I have done each one brings back a memory. You remember the route, the weather, how you felt and who beat you!
I have run marathons in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Chester and Las Vegas. But I can honestly say that there is no greater feeling, no greater finish than that final day ‘on the Tour’ (Dr Ron 7) where you turn right onto Market Street in Hyde and enjoy the final downhill section to the gantry outside the town hall. You’re exhausted, spent, hurting but absolutely elated after 4 days of running. That finish just stays with you forever and that’s what draws me back, year after year.
My wife Janet has always held the bags and cheered me on at the end but in 2019, she is running the final day of the Tour having caught ‘The Running Bug!” She never ran until 3 months ago. Shaun Chambers’ son Akkeal who runs for Altrincham and who works at Run North West at Hyde spent ages with her going through the right shoes and once she got them, she has continued to run every Sunday at a local 5K and a few nights after work with her friend Gill Nurney. I am incredibly proud of her and how she too has stuck at it. Of course, they are also now kitted out with Daddies Escape tops, showing that we welcome ladies as well as the gents!
“I really hope that someone else reading this just says, “Why not?!” and opts to go out for a jog. There is nobody to beat, no bad performance, no shame in spending a long time going a short distance; you’ll be lapping everyone sat on the couch. It costs a pittance to start and keep going. You don’t need special kit; just something you’re comfy in.”
Put some headphones on and listen to the radio or, as I do, audiobooks.
We live in an increasingly busy age and time for yourself is hard to find but a short run, jog or fast walk brings much more. You start to feel more awake. To this day, if I come in from work and sit down, I just fall asleep but if I pop out for a run, I get back, have a shower and I feel a new person. You feel something in your legs. Not pain, but almost a ‘thank you’ where they feel awake, lively and satisfied. Personally, I eat what I want and enjoy a beer. I don’t take it too seriously but know that I am a much happier person with running in my life. If I have a bad day at work, Janet will plonk my trainers in the porch and say “Go for a run, you’ll feel better afterwards” and this is the thing – she is always right.
Last year, Sports Tours International launched the Running Bee Foundation, which their way of giving back to local communities by returning all profits from their events back in to them to promote health and wellbeing. If you are thinking of getting into running or just a local jog, find an event near you and go and watch the finish. You will see people just like you, of all ages, sizes and abilities who are overjoyed to cross the finishing line. There is only so many times you do this before you truly believe ‘I can do that’.
I can totally appreciate why people would not want to. I was the same, but this changes as you feel the benefits. The hardest step is the first one out of the door. ”
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