STILL WATERS ANNIVERSARY ALLEY CAT

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In October, 12 months had passed since Still Waters primarily put their feet onto Manchester’s tarmac. Moving in a motion fuelled by the refreshing sense of community that supports Charlie Dark’s Run Dem Crew, along with the aim of bringing together an assorted bunch of Northerners that each share the commonality of one particular urge, to run.  With a regular group of runners now taking to the streets of the Manchester, we wanted to celebrate this growth within the Northern running community and bring together individuals from both ends of the country, moulding an anniversary weekend of cityscaping around a race.

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The format of the anniversary event was inspired by the urban alleycat races born out of the fixed gear cycling scene; not racing as runners may have experienced before, and with 2 feet free from a bicycle, but perhaps better understood as adrenaline fuelled sprints between markers and marshalls placed on mapped points around the city. Combined with ticking off checkpoints in both the people populated and the quieter areas of the city centre, participants were faced with 9 points split into three separate challenges, each ending and beginning at the race hub, Train. In amongst this trio of out and back check points, a choice of Cross Fit inspired challenges were offered up to participants. From rope climbs, to chin ups, burpees, box jumps, or a fast 30 calorie row ( sounds like a breeze – not quite) 3 were chosen with the hope of getting through them as quickly as possible, with the black mark of a time penalty being handed to those opting out.

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A good few hours later, with 60+ tired but chipper runners, and a late finish in the city, it was interesting to see how different people applied themselves, and refreshing to know that Saturday nights don’t need to be drowned in cider and tequila to feel like a decent night out on the tiles. As the evening demanded a mixed board of strengths we didn’t want to solely reward the quickest around the course. Just because you aren’t the fastest in the field does not mean that you don’t deserve the glory. 10 spot prizes were handed out, from the best overall performance, to those that showed the most effort, separating some of the usual predictability of racing, speed, and winning.

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Having local folk, and friends from a far race their way around a city dotted with Saturday night shape throwers, and exploring places that I spent many of my teenage weekends, was something pretty special for me. It was a pleasure to see a mixed bunch of people show their support, and feel welcome in a place that many of those who travelled had never explored before, or may have never found themselves venturing to otherwise.

Photography: Ash Narod

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