Runner sets quickest time in charity 10k

Jacob Watson with his club trophies for first and second place in road palladium and a road championship. (s)
Jacob Watson with his club trophies for first and second place in road palladium and a road championship. (s)

For many of us, exercise is about jogging to the corner shop for a Curly Wurly.

This Burnley runner, however, beat back 632 people to make the quickest time in a charity 10k race - despite going the wrong way in the second lap.

Jacob Watson finished last month’s Run in the Dark Manchester in just 35 minutes and 12 seconds.

“I was surprised at my time,” he said, “because when I went the wrong way after the first lap I thought I’d blown it.

“If it wasn’t for the other runners,” he added, “I’d have ended up lost somewhere in Manchester!”

His first attempt at the race, Jacob signed up as part of a team supporting a friend.

The group raised a total of £111 for the Bolton Bulls, a wheelchair basketball team.

The 33 year-old, who studied at Burnley College, is coached by Ben Fish, a former runner for England.

And despite his first place position, Jacob only began running a few years ago to shift some holiday weight.

“If I’m honest,” he said, “I’ve never had any interest in sport before running! I used to lift weights for exercise before I got into running but that’s it really!”

And while running came natural to him, the Manchester race presented its own challenges beyond the absence of sunlight.

“Other than the fact that I got lost, the main obstacle was the many ‘switch-backs’. When you’re always turning back on yourself, it’s difficult to get your momentum back.”

And once the marshall leading the race by motorbike dropped away, Jacob had to push on alone.

“It’s tough mentally,” he said. “I tried to focus on keeping myself chipping away because I was out there by myself.

“It’s important when you’re in a group to try to stay in it - otherwise, you might start to fade.”

Now the runner is looking to beat his time, a personal best, by finishing the Ribble Valley 10k in under 35 minutes later this month.

It’s an attitude he encourages others to share.

“Just sign up for a race even if you don’t think you’re fit enough,” he said. “Signing up gives you the motivation.”

“These kinds of races are for everyone - like the guys going around [the Run in the Dark track] in wheelchairs.

“Even if you’re at the back, it’s still an achievement."

For more information, please visit www.runinthedark.org