Our correspondent Anne Lowe writes: "Just after Christmas, I was casually browsing Facebook when I came across an advert for Curleys 5k trail series, the first thing that attracted me to it was that it was a trail run and that's something that I really enjoy and secondly it was 3 races for a tenner so I thought what a bargain!!! I immediately put down the mince pie I was scoffing and signed up - I then forgot about it until I got a reminder in the middle of March that it was coming up.
Having never taken part in it before, I had no idea what was to come so I drove up to Horwich and pottered up to the start. There were about 200 fellow runners there for the first event. After a couple of announcements there was no messing about and at 7pm prompt off we went. We ran down a very cobbley/dirt tracked road and through a posh private housing estate and then we met an enormous climb. The fact that the night before I'd taken part in my very first fell run (with disastrous results but that's another story) didn't help me get up the hill any quicker, my calves & thighs screamed and I have no shame in admitting that I walked up the hill to the top. The views from the top of the hill were magnificent, if I'd have taken my camera I would have stolen a quick selfie!!
Anyway, back on the run and there was a brief respite of a flat before another hill, not as mammoth as the previous but a hill all the same, then a sharp left through a gate and then the descent began - this was the really fun bit!! Down through a rocky path, loads of steps, trees, exposed roots - it was bloody brilliant. It then took a turn back up the hill and then back down again. Once the wooded bit was over, we then trotted through dirt track roads, waded through an enormous puddle and back through the posh housing estate ending with another big climb to the finish. It was a toughie but really exhilarating!!
My plan was to train in between the races to try and improve my time so I started doing Heaton Parkrun every week to push myself over the 5k distance, the second meet was on the exact same course but the weather was dreadful, sheet lightning, hail, wind and mud - lots and lots of mud so unfortunately my time went backwards which was disappointing. I carried on with my Park running however and went back on 27th April for the final meet. I took my little cheer leading group with me and thought to myself "I'm having this tonight!!" I have to say I really went for it, the big hill at the start I ran (slowly) up all of it, I chucked myself downhill like John Cox descending Knowle Hill and when I thought "I've had enough of this!!" at the big hill at the end, I pushed on and managed to take a minute and half off my previous best – despite being completely knackered at the end, I really felt good.
This was a brilliant little series, very enjoyable, well organised and marshaled and it seemed a very friendly atmosphere - for next year I would highly recommend it as a great way to dust off the Winter stodge."