Milly Voice is a long distance (ultra) runner. She signed up for her first ultra two years ago with a 53 km mountain ultra-marathon, having previously only raced 10 miles. Since then, running has become an important part of her life. In her first ultra in the Alps, she came eighth woman overall and first GB woman. A southerner who fell in love with the north, she enjoys nothing more than running where there are some good hills, some great scenes and above all, that feeling of peace that running offers.
When I ventured up north, I never thought it would get me ultra-running. After having run when I was younger for fun and fitness, it was never really ‘a big deal’, and no one would have picked me out as likely to become a sporting champ at school.
“get on a train from
and you find yourself
in the Peak District.
and ideal for trail or
So what changed? Many things, mostly Manchester and the like-minded sports driven people who have been inspired to live in the city and the places it can take you to for running.
The Peak District is very accessible to Manchester. I remember my first ‘off-road’ run around the Burbage Valley. This got my running going: the serenity, the views, the contrasting terrain.
As a Londoner, I was well aware of the delights of Richmond Park, and have been known to circuit it up to 26 miles for ultra training. But get on a train from Manchester Piccadilly and you can find yourself in, well, the Peak District. Beautiful, uninhibited,and ideal for trail or fell running.
My running journey is fairly unorthodox. I ran a 10 mile fell race (Saddleworth Cake Race, I was incentivised by both panorama and pavlova) and then my next race sign up was a 53km mountain ultra in the Alps.
A frequent question I was asked, was “If you are based mostly in the south, how are you training for a mountain ultra?” Westminster isn’t known for incline.
Which is why, I am so grateful for friends and close ones in the north. On Friday afternoons I would get a 2 hr 08 train to whisk me towards Manchester, which held the golden ticket in terms of access to decent hill training and the fell running that I loved.
Don’t be alarmed. There is no need to go to the extremes of signing up for ultras or taking on extreme challenges if you just fancy a run off tarmac. Lyme Park, less than an hour from the city, offers grounds perfect for seeing what it is like to run in the Peak, with not too much commitment and a café by the majestic National Trust main house.
A couple of miles run gives you the chance to see some beautiful scenery, and get away from it all. Again, Richmond Park has cafes and little trails. But there is just something in saying you are in the Peak District. Plus those hills.
If you live in Manchester and have never experienced the Peak, there are some great and very friendly navigational courses out there too. I recently enjoyed a great day with some like minded women learning map reading skills with Dave Taylor from the Fell Running Guide, who made the daunting experience of finding my way accessible and more manageable (fellrunningguide.co.uk).
Whatever your sports or ambitions, whether your have lived a long time up north or not, this part of the world helped me realize what I really loved doing and got me running in a quite different way to ever before.
Milly’s Top 5 Runs Around Manchester
Stunning grounds, perfect for beginners to this sport. Easily accessible from Manchester.
This iswhere my running journey started and where I recently came third woman in the Dig Deep 30 mile ultra.
Gives some height, some rocks, and fast pace trail enjoyment.
Chorlton Water Park and Sale Water Park
Clocking miles and getting away from the immediate city, I ran along the canal banks to train for long distance races. Very tranquil and travel friendly from Manchester.
Shining Tor, Windgather
A great place to run with mates.