By Karen Glynn.
It was with some trepidation that this race came up after my spectacular fall at the Ilkey Moor race – could I stay upright on this so-described fell race? As normal we met at the Garforth Sport Centre and the bus set off precisely at 8:30am. As we were pulling away, Emily said ‘where are Richard and Alison? I am sure Alison was talking about coming yesterday’. As we approached the Podger in the bus, luckily there were Alison and Richard walking toward the bus looking rather confused. Paul Durkin was appalled that he missed them off his list, but there was no harm done in the end.
There seemed to be more spectators than other club outings which I put down to injuries as Karen Downham was still limping around with a bad ankle, or was it carefully planned excuses, I wondered? On the way up, Emily mentioned that she had received an email reminding her to remember her race number and in crept doubt number two: had I actually entered the race? as I didn’t recall getting any such email….
The bus rolled onto into North Yorkshire and through breaks in the cloud we could see the beautiful rolling hillsides, and was that a mountain in the distance? It was a cooler day than recently with showers, and down at lowland levels, a bit of a breeze. The weather came into play later on in the day.
As we approached the race HQ area, the road got narrower and narrower, and the bus squeezed its way to the car park. The bus driver was advised that event parking was on the grass, but he could ‘take a chance’ and park in the main car park and see if he got moved on.
We were quite early and the usual queue at the ladies’ toilets hadn’t begun so that was an immediate win for many on the bus.
Then most of the Kippax runners set off to collect their race number. As I hadn’t had the email I thought this could be an awkward moment but luckily there was a list of runners (unfortunately in number order, so we all played ‘spot the Kippax Harrier’ for a bit to find our numbers). That was doubt number two allayed. Once that was done it was hang around disputing where the start actually was and trying to keep warm (by sitting on the bus), until other people started to drift off in what seemed like a known direction. Emily and I had spotted lots of people wearing off-road shoes, and were somewhat worried that our normal road trainers were going to be a major hindrance, especially as it seemed that we had to run up that mountain which I’d spotted on the way up. So, doubt number three: was I going to be able to actually run along the course? 8.5 miles would be a long walk in not enough clothes to be walking in…..
We started close to the number tent and ran through a gate past Castle Bolton. There was a big ‘ooh’ from the runners ahead of me, and it turned out that John Mess had fallen (and was luckloy unhurt apart from pride). I was now triply worried that I would be breaking some major bone at some point in the run.
As we got through an early bottleneck we all passed through a narrow field entrance and started to climb…and climb…and climb……. I took heed from some more experienced runners and walked when they walked – it turned out to be a 1.5 mile almost continuous climb up rocky and grassy paths, so I was glad to have taken rests along it at times. Eventually the track levelled out and we started to bear left along the top of the mountain. It was here that some of the faster Kippax runners said that they experienced horizontal gale-driven rain. So sometimes there are benefits to being slower – I didn’t see any rain at all, although there were threatening clouds about and the gale was present. The beautiful, savage scenery spread out beneath all of the runners but I only dared take glances at it as I daren’t look up in case I missed my footing and fell..
On the climb up, I had been very careful to make sure I could always see the path ahead and chose my path carefully. I basically had the mantra of ‘do not all, do not fall’ ringing in my head. After the rolling mountain top, there was some descent, which was steep and rubbly in places. I had a major crisis of confidence and walked these bits, thinking that with a) my track history for falling and b:) road shoes, discretion was the better part of valour. It seemed to work as I only had one small toe stub/trip moment which is record for me on road or off. Admittedly a load of sure-footed off-road shoes wearing mountain goat type runners came past me on these sections, but I was more happy to stay upright than worry about my time. The rest of the run looked to be shaping up to be a steady run through pheasant grass moor and shale and I settled into thinking that now it must be mostly downhill. At about 6.5 miles though, we traversed a small valley which was exited via a steep concrete section path. Absolutely no-one around me ran up it, so I joined in too. It wasn’t as long as the climb at the start but it was twice as savage in its gradient. After this final sting in the tail, the course was mostly downhill and was more like a cart track than moor. I grew in confidence and started to pick up the pace and managed to pass a couple of Harrier ladies towards the end (so this is what negative splits can feel like I thought). The last hazard was a stream running across the track, which I approached completely wrong and ended up thoroughly soaking my feet in. I tried to pick the pace up heading into the finish and catch Linda Durkin, but as usual I failed epically. Still my major aim was achieved: I HADN’T FALLEN OVER – YAY! I wasn’t at all surprised that it took me over 90 minutes to run/walk the 14km. Our first finisher was Dean Brown who basically ran with Chris Bartle and then beat him by two seconds in a sprint at the finish, in a time of 67:57. Our fastest lady was Emily Follows.
And our reward for all our efforts? A bottle of water! We surmised that as it was organised by a Rotary Club, they didn’t quite understand how runners’ rewards now work. (I was happy not to have to squeeze yet another t-shirt into my wardrobe , and not quite so happy not have some sort of food treat though).
After everyone had done the usual quick change the bus took us into the centre of Leyburn for lunch and drinkies. We lost the ‘fast lads’ as we headed towards the first pub and most of us had a Sunday Carvery. We eventually all met up in the next pub, where Emily & I found gin to be very reasonably priced. Others found the same with the beer, I think.
The time to return to Garforth came round only too soon, and we actually arrived back a bit early, so those with passes out until 6pm precisely continued drinking in the Podger. It didn’t suit everyone’s stomach in the end, it would seem:
So it was another enjoyable club trip and excellently organised by Paul Durkin. Thank-you one and all for great day.