Looking for an alternative on GNR weekend I stumbled across the new Vale of York Half Marathon and the promise of a flat fast course on closed roads appealed so I entered wondering how quick I could run off marathon training. I later found out that the Hardmoors Princess Challenge was the week before and having destroyed my quads on that I figured I might as well finish them off altogether with the Pieces of Eight 10K the following day so didn’t quite manage to get to the start line as fresh as I would have liked.
It was feeling decidedly chilly as everyone lined up on the start line at Sherburn Aero Club but it didn’t stay cool for long and very quickly the temperatures were rising. The first mile was a little congested as everyone jostled for position and tried to settle into a comfortable pace but once we were out of the air field and onto the roads crowding was no longer an issue. Two miles in and any thought of a fast run went out the window as the early splits weren’t encouraging, it was getting hot and the legs were already protesting. Considered DNFing but figured it would make a good long run if nothing else and decided to try and stick as close to marathon pace as possible.
3 miles in and up the only “hill”, a bridge over the railway line, and onto the long straight roads through Bishop Woods. Rather than following the “racing line” the race snaked its way across the road towards the blissful shade, no one was caring about the extra distance, we just wanted some respite from the sun. Out of the woods and we were onto a 3 mile loop before returning the way that we came back to the airfield. Marshalling was great with fantastic support from both the organising club and lots of local cyclists who seemed to appear from nowhere to cheer us on. Water stations every 3 miles meant that you despite the heat you didn’t need to worry about dehydration.
The last few miles started to hurt as the hamstring which still hasn’t recovered from the fateful night at the relays began to tighten but I was having fun trying to chase down a friend from Blackhill Bounders when all of a sudden with a mile to go I realised my shoe lace had come undone. After more races than I care to remember I should really be able to tie them properly, stopping to re-tie it I watched the black and yellow vest drift into the distance. Tried to chase him down again but didn’t quite make it finishing in 1:44, quicker than marathon pace and considering the 37 miles I’d raced the weekend before promising for the rest of the autumn. Phil Owen finished shortly afterwards, again quicker than marathon pace in 1:56.
For the first time of running this was a very well organised race and the goody bag contained a decent T shirt and medal. This is definitely one to look at for those chasing a fast autumn half marathon time or looking for a more scenic alternative to the GNR.