Yorkshire Cakeathlon

Run Report – Yorkshire Cakeathon

By Karen Glynn

My Harewood half Marathon training plan required an easy 2 hour run, preferably off road which meant that trying to do well in the in the hilly Meltham 10K championship was off the cards.  The thought of running alone (no matter how beautiful the landscape around Aberford) for two hours filled me with dread.

So, when Judy commented on the Yorkshire Cakeathon advert on Facebook to say how good it was, I spotted a solution to my training plan need and subsequent boredom issue.  The cakeathon is a Saxons, Vikings and Normans (SVN) event, and is a 6 hours endurance event where you can run for as long as you want.  Your rewards come accordingly.  They only hold a couple of events this far North each year and it sounded like a perfect way to run away a couple of hours. It was already closed for entries this being the Thursday before the event on Sunday.

I managed to get in late by commenting on Facebook that it would have been perfect for my training – the organiser contacted me after that and gave me late entry.  So, Sunday came around and I found myself in Penistone, in somewhat better weather then the previous day, for the run.  I knew that it was a lap run – you do as many laps as you want, and I also knew that Penistone is not flat, so I was slightly concerned that my easy run would be impossible to achieve.

I’d heard about the cakes that accompany the end of each lap, so I took a home baked offering and was rewarded with a mug for my efforts, which was a nice surprise.  When I tore my eyes away from all the goodies being placed on the table I realised that the room was filling up with hardy looking running types all with back packs and SVN t-shirts.  I started to think I might be a bit out of my depth here. I told myself ‘I bet they plan to run for longer than me’ to reassure myself.

I got my number and a lap ticket that was punched at the end of each lap (thankfully eradicating the need to keep count).  I struck up a conversation with a couple of people who looked as out of place and uncomfortable as me.  It seemed that a lot of people had travelled quite some distance (Lincolnshire, Cumbria) to do this event, so my 45 minute trip felt quite ‘local’.  Then the race briefing was given, where various people were given badges and t-shirts for doing things like ‘running a marathon every day in January’, or reaching ‘500 miles’.  I started to feel distinctly out of place again.

The information about the course was simple – follow the disused railway line to the right, run until you come to an Anti-MTB gate, turn round and run back to get your lap counter punched, grab a bit of cake/drink (if you like),  and repeat,  as long as you like, up until 6 hours from now (when your last lap must be started). Stop at the end of any lap you like, just ring the bell inside the Community Hall when you’re finished.

We went out and started the run.  There were about 200 runners which was plenty for a 4.4 mile lap.  I decided to go nice and steady and fell in with the pace of a group of lasses who had come over from Cumbria the night before – that’s dedication.

After the first out leg, it turned out that the return leg was ever so slightly uphill.  It wasn’t challenging – the only real hill was a short stint from the railway line to get your card punched – maybe it was harder after 4 or 6 hours of running. The course was basically pan flat – perfect for an easy run.

I was having a nice chat with the Cumbria lasses but gradually ran away from them as I eased into the run a bit more on the second lap now I knew what to expect.  I was quite surprised to find that at the turn on the second lap, I hadn’t quite been running for an hour.  This meant that a) I could probably do 3 laps and b) that meant I’d run a half marathon.  I stopped for cake/biscuits/jelly babies at the end of each lap and that added a few minutes on but as they weren’t running minutes that was fine.

What was amazing was the encouragement everyone gave each other – everyone you came across said ‘morning’ or ‘well done’ or ‘nice running’ no matter how many times you saw them (which was quite often).  I think other people who were just running along the track were quite surprised to be so encouraged (you couldn’t tell who was running the event necessarily as some people put their numbers on their backs).  I kept passing a proper distance running looking chap (small, wiry), who would give me an enormous smile like he was really enjoying himself.  In fact, a lot of people looked liked they were having the time of their lives, and pretty soon, so was I.  Such a buzz being amongst a bunch of smiling, happy runners!  It was the complete opposite of everything I’ve run so far.

Well I rattled off my 2 hours and completed 3 laps and half marathon just running easy.  I actually felt like I could have run all day, as many people seemed to be intending to do.

I finished and rang the bell and so did a few other people behind me as they also finished their 3rd laps.  I got a goody bag and half – the medal was actually too heavy for my tired legs to bear, and it had a little ‘Half Marathon’ badge on it.