26 Dec 2015 – Barrow Boxing Day Handicap

This Xmas cracker has been going since something like 1982 and I’ve done this every year since I’ve been involved with running. Boxing day every year, run a course approximately 6.17 miles on road in which a good 60-70% are doing it in fancy dress and probably the same number are doing it with hangovers.

The idea of the event is that all runners finish together, so really there is no winner of the race so to speak; every runner is given a handicap and sets off at minute intervals according to speed (or pleasure!) thus the slowest runners set off at 10:50 and so on all the way down to 11:30.

Bit of a political niggle here is how the course has been changed over the years due to local councils thus why the current Barrow 6 course is now exactly the same as this. Similarly I was informed Barrow Runners were made to pay for hire per room from the school, given what local running clubs do for the community, sports participation levels, local prestige etc it’s a rather bad trend we are seeing in running and about time it went the other way, don’t you think ?

So as the race begins at 10:50 we are treated to a compendium of costumes Spiderman, Village People, Xmas Tree`s, Bavarians, American Football players, even Jesus! I`m the only Stilton Strider today although John Hudson is wearing neutral colours and Kaye Mead is here supporting, I had taken the safe option handicap wise until I realized I was being supported! Oh Dear means I have to try a bit harder.

So set off with a group of runners I knew very well but within the first hundred metres I kick on, soon catching the next group ahead within the first mile. Due to the nature of the course which by the way I absolutely hate, you always wonder about going off to hard , I thankfully don’t have much trouble with that long hill on the way out of Barrow.

The overtaking of runners is coming thick and fast especially along the 2-3 mile flat stretch, earlier on I had bet John Hudson I`d catch up with his 8 min handicap at mile 4, but reeled him in at 3.88 ! I must’ve been going some as the legs were feeling it a bit a 4.5 miles and slalom-ing past the slower runners at certain points of the course did become a grind at some sections. Made it back in without any runner passing me in 40.11

It is a very laid back and thoroughly well organised event whether you want a bit of fun or wish to whip round at full pelt, darest I say it`s far more enjoyable many times over in my opinion doing it boxing day than a few weeks later as a league race! `If` you can drag yourself to running on Boxing day then this is a very enjoyable option and thoroughly deserves its positive reputation.  [Rob]