Sunday 23rd April saw the third “in person” Cat Lane Canter and the second since the huge fun that was the pandemic NTCLC Grand Prix. Although there is nothing specifically wrong with actual races with real live people in them, everyone on this page knows that the virtual world is where it’s at, so it was impressive to see that some of our erstwhile members did bother to turn up – well done you. Many just kind of wafted around doing “duties” but a few got caught up in the spirit of things, strapped on their running boots and went for a little canter. For this reason it seems appropriate that we mark the occasion with a highly officious race report with little to no fact based content. Superfluous!

My day began with a pootle through the woods on a reverse Canter trajectory to present myself for registration duties. I encountered James Halse sauntering along the Flat Straight Bit with a lovely bouquet of flowers. These later turned out to be flags which does make more sense, but let’s not let reality get in the way of some strong poetic imagery.

The registration desk was everything I had hoped it would be – power beyond my wildest dreams. I bagged race number one, appropriate as I am the artist formerly known as Gaffer Tape Putter Upper Numero Uno.  I was joined by fellow Canterers Clare Thompson and Karen Stevens who were, like me, sporting Manchester Marathon hangovers. Jawad Qasrawi, who recently came out of retirement for the Palestine Marathon, assumed the position of number giver outer/bouncer and between us we did an impeccable job at numbering the arrivals. Admittedly there still seems to be some confusion about who number 132 is or was but we can only assume this has nothing to do with us until proven otherwise.

Karen had come in civvies to avoid the temptation of running up and down mudslides with lungs screaming blue murder, but Clare, Jawad and I had made the rookie error of coming in running kit so off to the start line we trudged. The race seemed to start in a timely fashion although I was too busy regretting my life choices to give it much notice.

Cat Lane Canter's Number One
Cat Lane Canter’s Number One

It’s always nice to see some friendly faces on route to break up the monotony of finding what you are doing really really really effing hard. Cantering legend Chris Walker was one such friendly face perched most of the way up the “St St St” hill to the fence. He had a camera so it was a great opportunity to pretend to run for a bit whilst grinning like a loon. NTCLC guru Steve TL was standing guard at the Gaunt aka opposite my house, just making sure I didn’t pop home for a nap in all likelihood. All the marshals were great and many of them are repeat offenders from CLC’s gone by so kudos to them all for turning out.

The Cat Lane Canter, it turns out, is very much like life; however difficult it is, eventually it is over. Hauling myself over the line and putting my yellow band in the bucket I started to feel that perhaps it had all been great fun after all. A few bedraggled NTCLCers managed to coordinate for a photo although we could not capture everyone. Neal Pates seemed keen to avoid the melee and probably wishes he could disassociate himself from us altogether, perhaps because we still insist on calling him Mr Sex Lollies.

Prizegiving was upon us and it was a bumper haul for the NTCLC crew! The 5K women’s race was won Sophie Evison aka Broc “are you sure it’s dead” Pastor. The Excellent Matt Richie came 3rd in the 5K and won (drumroll please) a haircut. Perhaps not ideal for a man with a dedicated set of dreads but I am reliably informed that he has passed this onto “Fucks Sake” Sid Fletcher who stormed the 5K MV50 1st place and is said to be “pleased”. The rest of us mere mortals including canter-ering supremos not yet mentioned Cath Ager, Jo Rose, Jo Gleig, Jane Huws, Elly Bate, Fran Green, John Hemshaw Thomas and Laurence (no slouching at the back) Jones– well it’s the taking part isn’t it? Apologies to any NTCLCers I have neglected to mention – detail is really not my strong point.

Although it’s possibly not possible to mention every living being in existence who did not attend the race, it is worth giving a shout out to a key few. Helen Wakefield did not run but she did turn up – at one point she was holding the yellow thingy bucket. Petra showed her face and, more importantly, Russell’s face (Who’s a good boy? Yes you are. Yes you are!) Chris Lawson, the mastermind behind NTCLC season 2 resorted to extreme measures to avoid the race – apparently he has signed up for something called the Bob Graham Round which requires some preparation – any excuse. This avoidance tactic was surpassed only by Dominic Watts who, if you’ve played the game “Guess My Overseas Medical Bill”, you’ll realise the extraordinary lengths he has gone to in order to not take part. James Halse and Lucy Broom “Kaboom” used the same excuse as every year “Ooh look at me, I’m organising!” Jane Boden was as usual a furious whirlwind of activity and for all we know, some of it may have been race related.

Huge thanks to all of the actual real life organisers of the actual real life Cat Lane Canter without whom the Not the Cat Lane Canter would not be able to happen.

The 10K race was won by Seth “Steel City Strider” Kirby in 41:25. The women’s race was won by Smiley Paces’ Vicky Penn in 49:55 – well we hope she’s still smiling. The 5K was won in 24:29 by Al McGregor of Mrs Mellor’s Cellar (an elite establishment no doubt) and the women’s race was won by Sophie Evison who is a Steel City Strider but we are claiming her for ourselves (Wahayyyy Not the Cat Lane Canter Forever! Woo-oo-oo-oo etc)

Report by Katelyn McKeown