By Karen Glynn
The motto for this race is ’Tough Not Timid’ and once again I found myself questioning just how tough I was as I poked a toe out of bed at silly ‘o’clock on a Sunday morning. On the lead up to the race, I started asking myself why I was doing this race at it wasn’t a championship race this year, and then I did recall that I rather enjoyed running around our nearest park last year, and it was also good training for the Harewood Half coming up in February, and then OMG – had I actually entered it? I recall being sent any emails about it, so had I entered?. A quick check of the RaceBest website at 7am showed me that I had entered (way back in August – so long ago that I had forgotten about it. I must have been keen though to enter so long ago!) Or was I scrabbling around trying to find reasons not to run?
The idea of 10 miles cross country wasn’t too terrifying given the club Twixtmas Half Marathon (well the course that I did at least) a couple of weeks earlier. The pressure was entirely self-applied by knowing that I am running a lot faster than this time last year, so what was I really capable of, and how fast should I try to go?
Well, once I got to the Park, thoughts changed to the usual number collection, bag drop, pre-race banter etc. There were a lot of Kippax Harriers running which was heart-warming to see.
I don’t recall if the start/finish was in the same spot as the year before but it was on the field beside and above the farm and the windiest spot in the park. It wasn’t a good place to stand about – either as a runner or a spectator.
Don’t ask me exactly where the course went, but it seemed to me that the nasty hills were all in the last 4 miles, and the first 5 miles were either flat or downhill. I tried to start a bit steadier than I normally do, but found myself overtaking a lot of runners while we did a circuit of the field, as once again I’d underestimated how fast I’d be running given the first mile was downhill. As things settled down, I noticed I wasn’t far behind another Kippax Harrier – eventually I realised it was Lee Kitching. I flew past him on a downhill section and then he steamed past me on the next uphill. We did that a couple of times, and by mile 5 had given up trying to be faster than each other, and had settled into a pace where we could talk (if a bit uncomfortably). That’s when the sandbagging started – we were both saying ‘we didn’t know if we keep going at this pace’, ‘that the hills at the end were going to kill us’ and were offering war stories about injuries which meant that we were very likely to blow at some point on the course. etc. When I tripped over, Lee waited for me, which I thought was most gentlemanly of him.
In fact, it was quite an eventful race for the Harriers – I think three or four of us took a tumble at some point. Having said that, it didn’t seem as muddy as last year and instead there were some decent puddles in places. To detour or not to detour? – that was the question.
I couldn’t quite believe it when I got to 10k and was only about 2 minutes off my PB 10K time. I really did think this couldn’t last. Sure enough the hills were bad, Pegasus Hill was a reminder why TN parkrun is mostly run down it, and not up it. Even the helpful Hill Angel ran out of puff before all the runners had got up it. We also ran the ParkRun finishing hill plus a bit. But the toughest hill was probably the first hill at the start of the Avenue (last year this was a really slippery slope, this time it
was more sticky). This was, naturally, where the official event photographers were. Everyone around me walked a bit on the hill through the woods (me included).
On each hill Lee gapped me slightly, and on each descent, I caught back up to him. I think we helped each other to stay mentally strong as we ran. The approach to the finish was a reverse of the start lap, so it was somewhat uphill. Lee gapped me again as he put a spurt on to catch John Messenger on the finish line, and I had nothing left to follow with.
Despite that, I still clocked the same time as Lee as I started a bit behind him too. And that time shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year and was only 3m 30s off my fast, flat 10 mile road PB from October. So I was well chuffed. Maybe all this training I’m doing for the Harewood Half in February is having an effect? Lee said he was aiming for 1h30, so maybe if hadn’t stopped for me…….
Other Harriers had an equally good day out, apologies Alison for copying your FB post: Kate Penrose FIRST in age group F60 – brilliant running well done, Dean Brown 28th overall – great, David Taylor 2nd M60 – great (will that be another prize in the post David?), Alan Davy 9th out of 63 in M35 great, Wendy 5th in F55 great. Best of all, we won the ‘Most Represented Club’ team for the second year running
Looks like we have a reputation to defend next year!
You can see photos featuring Kippax Harriers by clicking here. (Thanks to Colm O’Hara, Neil Hodgson, Andy Wicks and Simon Cullingworth)
You can also check out the course route and profile here. If you have a posh watch you can even download it and attempt it yourself!