Bleary eyed, wracked with nerves I awoke on Sunday morning “ready” for my first half marathon. But while most of the running community were heading further north, a small, intrepid group of striders were journeying south to the welcoming sounding Sherburn-in-Elmet Aero Club in North Yorkshire. The local Air Cadets were on hand to direct parking and point us towards the registration area, even handing out safety pins readily grouped in to sets of 4 – now there’s organisation!. An efficient bag drop system, and a short queue for the portaloo’s portable toilets (which by all accounts isn’t the case for a certain other half marathon!) and we were ready to run. A tannoy announcement informed us that the start would be delayed for 10-15 minutes due to traffic on the incoming road, which we were to be running along shortly. Not to worry – time for a few team photos and words of advice from Strider support crew. Mr Tannoy-Man informs us that we’re almost ready and to proceed to the start line. And we’re off…..
The first mile was mostly completed within the air field, going up then doubling back along one of the runways. While a little uninspiring, there was plenty of space, nobody was hemmed in and I comfortably found my pace. Turning right out of the access road, we moved out on the closed roads of the North Yorkshire countryside….. and it was beautiful. Open fields dotted with lovely cottage houses, many of whose residents popped out to cheer and wave, followed by much appreciated cover from woodland surrounds at mile 3. Then it was back out to open field views, at which point the fast runners were making their way back in on the “lolly-pop” style course. Shout outs were given to Phil, Stephen and Tamsin passing through at impressive speed.
On-going at my less speedy pace, I continued to admire the lovely views, enjoying going through a lovely hamlet at around mile 7, receiving the cheers from a family making an occasion out of the day with picnic chairs and a tea urn in the front garden. Mile 9 marked a distance PB for me, which was suitably celebrated with my running partner Debra, and mile 10 instigated the “it’s only a parkrun left” mentality. Running back through the tree sheltered area gave a great boost, knowing that it wouldn’t be too long until the aero-club would be in sight. Another mile or so and we were starting to see planes overhead coming in to land, and then the turn off from the main road came. It was still a little way to go – just shy of a mile, but the buildings were in sight, and as we got closer I could just about hear Mr Tannoy-Man again.
Coming off the road and on to a path, we managed to pass a few runners, and then heard the shouts from Strider support “just round the corner”. A cheeky push to the finish from us both, crossing the line together – as if we would do anything else after 13.1 miles. A big hug with Debra. It was done. My first half marathon.
You couldn’t shift the grin on my face as I collected my goody bag, practically inhaling a chocolate bar and put on that medal. The grin was even bigger as I discovered the Aero-Club bar were doing Sunday Carvery! Then a brew and bacon roll with the remaining strider gang before heading off home…… with heavy legs, a toe blister, and cheeks that hurt from smiling so much.
See you next year Vale of York!