If you’re going to organise a 10k road race in Burnley – or just about anywhere else in East Lancashire for that matter – you’re going to have to plan some hills into it.
When the Jane Tomlinson Appeal first brought the Asda Foundation Pennine Lancashire 10k race to Burnley three years ago, they certainly brought a pretty race.
But it was also pretty tough.
According to the route map I still have in my watch from last year, it included 301 metres of climb.
Some of that came early on, most of it was crammed into the section between 3.5 and 5.5k and just about all the payback – the downhill stretch – came in one short, sharp burst through the Brunshaw Nine Hole golf course.
It was anything other than a course on which an experienced runner could expect a personal best time.
It was a test, a good test, and one I enjoyed for each of the last three years despite dreading the long haul from Netherwood Road, passed Rowley Lake to the Thornton Arms and up Brunshaw Road.
The town centre start and finish gave family and friends the chance to cheer people on.
But even the finishing stretch up Manchester Road was too hilly for some people.
Having had the chance to devise a new route, the Run For All team have now delivered a much fairer race.
I took the chance to preview the route on Sunday, albeit as a note-taking walk rather than a run, and found around 80 fewer metres to climb.
And if the outcome of that walk is anything to go by, most people can expect a faster time this year in the rebranded, re-routed and relocated Burnley 10k.
The first time I walked the old route it took me 10 minutes longer than the new route.
I tend to run 10k races at an average pace that is twice as fast as my normal walking pace.
Can I, therefore, knock five minutes off my time for the old route?
Well there isn’t long to wait and see – the race is on Sunday, June 5th.
One of the big problems I always faced with the old route was the downhill start, always a difficulty for me as I tend to set off like an eager young puppy and pay for it later!
But that won’t be happening this year as the start and finish have been shifted to Towneley and offer a whole new set of challenges.
Although the exact start and finish points have yet to be finalised the route goes something like this.
The start point is likely to be somewhere between the Riverside Rotunda kiosk and the football changing rooms.
From there it will run away from Towneley Hall briefly before turning up the road back towards the hall, a slight uphill drag to get muscles warmed up.
The route then turns right at Towneley Hall on to the path which leads all the way along the side of the golf course and out to Todmorden Road.
The first 50 metres of that path are a sharp incline followed by around 500 metres of a more gentle climb during which the first kilometre is ticked off.
The start of this stretch is the narrowest path on the course, but still not as narrow as some of the paths on the old route.
From there it is pretty much downhill to the golf club car park and out on to Todmorden Road for about one and a half kilometres of downhill running.
From there it is a gentle incline to Harry Potts Way and the third kilometre is over and done with.
The next kilomtre is largely the drag up Belvedere Road before turning down Ormerod Road and into Thompson Park.
This is largely familiar stretch of the race as it replicates much of an early stage of the old route, albeit with a diversion, before the drag through Bank Hall.
The mid-point of Bank Hall was the two kilometre mark on the old route with some serious hills to come.
On the new route you pass five kilometres at the top of Bank Hall and most of the hills are behind you, with one short, sharp shock waiting just round the corner!
Exiting Bank Hall and turning right into Eastern Avenue, the new route ignores Netherwood Road and instead carries on to the bottom of Queens Park Road.
This is the toughest hill as the route heads up passed Burnley Youth Theatre before heading off road into the site of the Rowley Waste site.
It is just over 200 metres from the bottom of the hill to the entrance to the Rowley site, the worst hill dealt with as the six kilometre mark approaches.
Anyone who had seen the original route notes for the new course and wondered where the extra kilometre was can now discover the answer as there is an uphill run to the old waste site and then a run back down the new path to Queens Park Road, the latter stretch being the only unmade surface on the route.
The first half of this stretch is largely uphill, but not too tough, and I couldn’t help a wry smile as I looked down on the worst sections of the old route.
Back on the roads and the route heads to the roundabout at the top of Ormerod Road.
That is followed by some long straight sections of the race, with not much climbing to do.
The seventh kilometre is completed at the top of Ormerod Road with the next kilometre taking you passed Blessed Trinity RC College, the fire station and the cricket club.
Crossing Harry Potts Way for a second time the route is 80% done.
The route remains either slightly downhill or flat along Todmorden Road and back into Towneley Park, the nine kilometre mark is pretty much outside Unity College and then the finishing line is in site, although the last 600 metres or so are slightly uphill towards Towneley Hall, although nothing like as steep as the finish up Manchester Road on the old route.
Although not as challenging as the old route, it is still a challenge.
It should be faster, the hills aren’t as daunting and there are fewer narrow paths with the potential to cause congestion.
My first impressions are positive.
My second impressions will be formed in full running kit on Sunday, June 5th, and I will reserve any further judgement until after then!