By any stretch of the imagination to celebrate 25 years of “being together” is a major achievement, and that is no different for race organiser Terry Dickenson.
On November 2 the Through the Villages Race, staring at 10.30am and organised on behalf of Heapey and Wheelton Village Hall Committee, celebrates its 25th anniversary.
This independent road race, often described as “8½ miles of hell” or “equivalent to a half marathon” takes in some splendid scenery.
Starting and finishing at The Dressers’ Arms at Wheelton the course takes in the scenic delights of Brinscall, Abbey Village, Withnell before descending sharply to the finish.
If runners have time to take in the views of the West Pennine Moors then they are very lucky.
The toughness of the course initially prompted the Village Hall Committee to provide free food at the end in the form of hotpot but this delight has now become an established part of the folk lore for the event.
The race was originally the brainchild of Terry's long suffering wife Pat, Jim Smith and Stuart Jackson although Terry has for 20-plus years been the main organiser.
But the race could not take place without the dedicated band of volunteers, sponsors, RAYNET, Red Cross and local police.
Many international athletes have cut their teeth, as they say on this course, but perhaps one of the more amusing incidents was when a team from the Royal Marines entered some time ago.
They had originally come to take the team prize, but at the start, half jokingly remarked that the start was going to take them down hill – when realising that they had to run 1.25 miles uphill to get to the flat on top of the Harbour, the colour seemed to drain from their faces.
They did produce some good individual performances but unfortunately came last in the team event.
Terry is the only person to have run 23 out of 24 of the races as well as organising them – he was ill 3 years ago so couldn’t compete.
If he completes this year’s race it will be number 24. Having a rye sense of humour, Terry thought that this year he should wear a poster on his back for some fellow competitors to say – “this could be your last chance to overtake me, I may retire from competitive running after this year’s race!”.
He is often quoted as saying that these days he goes for personal worst, not personal best times.
The course record has stood since 1990 and is an amazing 42m 47secs by Rich Archer of Man University AC.
Only two athletes have come anywhere since then, but hopefully being the 25th year someone will have a go at setting a new standard.
This year runners will receive special medals sponsored by Heapey Parish Council and Wheelton Parish Council as well as the Village Hall Committee.
Anyone can enter either online at www.ukresults.net or by emailing terry at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.