Race Review: Southport Mad Dog 10K

As a big fan of Runners World, I just had to run the Mad Dog 10K after seeing that it was rated the best 10K in the country by Runners World readers last year.

Though if I’m honest, the fact that it starts and finishes within walking distance of Jelly Baby Towers was also a bit of an attraction…

First impressions were pretty good, I have to say, as everything from the event organiser’s pre-race emails to my pre-chipped running number were excellent. And on the day itself, there was plenty of car parking for the non-locals, not to mention smooth arrangements for changing, bag drop-off , pre-race t-shirt collection and even pre-race massages.

But what about the race?

Well, while the starting area is a bit narrower than it would be in an ideal world, after a brief pre-race Mad Dog howl, we got off pretty sharpish on what must be one of the fastest and prettiest 10K courses in the country.

The first 3 miles or so allow you to run down the middle of the Marine Drive, which runs alongside the beach, before cutting inland for a few bends around the Marine Lake and then a 2 mile paved section back to the start/finish area.

Aside from a brief queue for the goody bags, the whole race couldn’t have been slicker or friendlier. And when you factor in the medal, technical t-shirt and excellent goody bag, all for a measly £20 this simply has to be the best value race in the UK calendar.

Huge congratulations to those Mad Dogs at Southport Hesketh Rotary Club for showing others how races like this should be organised – and raising a good bit for worthy causes in the process. So for those of you who haven’t done Mad Dog yet, I have to say, you’d be barking not to give it a go in 2013…

And despite knowing that Adrian and the Crew would prefer some doggy chocs, I also have no choice but to eschew even a 5 Jelly Baby Rating and award the Mad Dog 10K the rare accolade of The Whole Damn Bag. Well done guys!

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Gear Review: Jabra Rhythm Headphones

jabra rhythm headphonesWhile the organisers of most races follow UK Athletics Rules and ban iPods and headphones, I for one find that every run goes better when I’ve got some unfashionable rock music helping me to pace myself.

From ‘Edge of 17’ by Stevie Nicks to ‘Burning For You’ by the Blue Oyster Cult, there’s simply no better way to take one’s mind off the pain in one’s dodgy old knees.

Yet, living on the windy west coast of England, I also spend far too much time trying to keep the standard Apple headphones in my ears, not to mention having to crank the volume pretty high in order to hear Thunder’s ‘Back Street Symphony’ over the noise of the crashing waves.

So I was more than thrilled when a number of headphones for runners rocked up at Jelly Baby Towers this week. I’ve now run in all of them, and can happily state that the Jabra Rhythms are the pick of the bunch.

While the rich bass and crisp treble will appeal to the audiophiles amongst you, I have to say that what really makes them great for runners is the perfect fit that keeps them snug in your ears even in gale force conditions, and which also ensures you can turn the volume down quite a long way and still hear the music: which I’m told is good news for your ear-drums too.

The lead also features a microphone and button for answering calls and skipping tracks on your iPhone, but which lacks a volume control. Sadly, this gets them half a point docked, but still leaves them well worth a 4.5 Jelly Baby Rating and also great value at just £19.99.