The Robbie Webster Wobbler – June 2016

Continuing the short reprise of some races from the summer past it can’t help but include this gem. The Robbie Webster Wobbler is a relatively new local evening race organised by Helsby Runners in commemoration of a former member of the club. This year was my second attempt at the challenging course based around the woods and trails around Frodsham hill.

The race is approximately 5 miles long – including around 1200 feet of ascent – a fair amount for a Wednesday evening. However as with a lot of off-road races the devil is in the detail – the “detail” being the nature of the course. This one really is a fantastic case of making the best use of what you have – and whilst the hill might not be high the overall effect is rather ‘fun’.

Of course that ‘fun’ is best taken in the context of the author – it is very muddy, contains lots of sharp twists and turns, has tree roots and branches to catch the unwary. It has steep ascents – followed immediately by equally steep drops. This year torrential downpours preceded the race, though the race itself was run in bright sunshine. The effect was an awful lot of mud which was sometimes difficult to see through the dappled sunlight.

It would also be remiss not to mention steps. In various sections of the race steps are encountered – these often mud held back with wood, or ledges cut into sandstone or even steep prefabricated steel ones in one instance. All add to the variety of this multi-terrain race!

Whilst the course is definitely a strong draw for most runners, personally the post-race cake was equally important. The cake being served in a facility that offered alcoholic beverages too. All added together (race, cake, beer) – I was never not going to be there was I??

So it was that the crowd of chatty, keen  runners clogged the streets of Frodsham at around 7.15 ready for the start. As always I was amazed at the array of different people that such events attract. There was Justin (school boy) having an animated conversation with John Morris – who is literally 5 times as old as him! All sharing the love of attempting to run around daft, but very ingeniously designed, courses.

Finally without a big build-up we lined up and were set off – starting with a mad dash up the road onto the hill and into the woods. Given the narrow paths a dash was recommended if you wanted a fairly good position – though it left the lungs burning just in time for the first mud-clogged climb.

Burning lungs then became the norm and given the similar feelings growing in the legs, my breathing eventually settled into its normal death-rattle. The fleet-footed raced around the course at break-neck speeds whilst the rest of us just enjoyed it.

And enjoyable it was – with a record attendance from Buckley – 16 of us! All finished in the same manner; exhausted, dirty, sweaty – and most importantly smiling (even teenager Justin). Not long after the last finishers reached the welcoming volunteers at the finish line we drove on-mass down to a nearby social club and got to the important part of the evening. Lots of homemade cake was consumed and the odd beverage too. As usual Buckley did well – Jez coming 3rd overall and we even managed to snaffle the team prize from the hosting club – for the first time in the races’ (short) history.

Overall another great race and well worth searching for my passport to escape from Wales for the evening.

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