Striders who know me will know that I am not usually one for the roads but that I have been turning up for some of the club’s classic road races over the last couple of years: GNR, Brampton and the GNR again! This year I decided to tick off the Brass Monkey, though given the 90 minutes I spent trying to access a crashing Knavesmire Harriers’ website it was nearly a write off before I even started. Having managed the almost impossible, to get just one entry into the race – no more, no fewer! – I joined 20 or so Striders on the bus to York very early on a cold January Sunday morning; a similar number made their own way there. By the time we got to York the forecast “sunny periods” hadn’t arrived and so I prepared for a wet run. But, by the start, it was a bit warmer than at home and so the thermal came off and my gloves and hat were left in my bag. In fact it was probably pretty ideal: the cold side of mild, overcast, light drizzle and no wind.
I’d not really prepared for a half marathon relying instead on it being a comfortable distance for me. In fact several days cross-country skiing the previous weekend, including a very tough 15km of a disastrous ski marathon, had taken their toll. I hadn’t realised quite how much until about halfway round the Brass Monkey lollipop of a course. Muscles that really shouldn’t ache when running started to ache, muscles that I only ever seem to use for skiing but muscles that were still complaining. It made for a very painful final six miles. What probably made things worse was that everyone says this is a potential PB course. No wind, no sun, and nicely cool just added to that potential, a potential my brain didn’t want to waste even if my legs did. So I punished my legs more than I probably should have, but I did get that PB.
For those who have not yet done this half marathon, the course is a mix of minor and more minor roads. I’d say it’s as flat as a pancake but the bridge over the A64 is a nasty little climb when your legs are tired after 12 miles of pounding the roads. It’s well marshalled with three well-placed water points. There are some great patches of support as you pass through a couple of villages and there is fantastic support at the finish, well there was by the time I finished. There’s even a bit of wild life to see, about half way round a weasel darted across the road in front of me carrying something like a vole in its mouth.
Once we were all in and changed – and it’s great to be able to get changed in the warm, dry comfort of the race course main building – it was back on the bus for Shipton. It was a short bus trip to the Dawnay Arms for Sunday lunch and a couple of very welcome pints, then a longer sleepier bus trip back to Durham. A tiring but enjoyable day, but one my legs are not going to let me forget just yet.
|1||Matthew Peirson||Holmfirth Harriers||M||1:10:19|
|19||Jilly Woodthorpe||Barnsley AC||F35||1:15:57|
|1045||Richard Hall the Younger||M45||1:54:36|
|1349||Christine Anne Farnsworth||F60||2:16:23|