After running coniston 14 the day before this 20 mile race, it’s fair to say I was pushing myself to new and untested limits. This was never the plan but I could not refuse the last minute chance that came up to run coniston for the first time. I had a plan for both races and was really looking forward to a great weekend of running.
As part of London marathon training, I was looking for a good flat 20 mile race and realised a few options are open this time of year. Trimpell is an out and back race, traffic free and good reports from previous years. After strong recommendations from striders I entered my first ever 20 mile race.
Now the important things for future runners, parking is well organised and free. Race HQ easy to find, with friendly and helpful volunteers. Changing facility’s excellent and secure baggage area. Race t-shirt, medal (nice bling) sandwich/banana and chocolate bar at the end. All very good value for money,
The plan was 5 mile pace progression, starting slow then running the last 5 miles at marathon pace. As is quite normal for me, unfortunately the plan went out the window within the first mile. Despite yesterday’s hard 14 mile race at quite a quick pace, I was feeling really good. I tried to hold my pace back but clocked my first mile at 7 mins 😟.
The next few miles flew past at the same pace and was enjoying the whole experience. Over the next few miles I was intending to slow up but my racing instinct kept me reeling people in as they puffed away, a very odd experience. The course is indeed flat and perfect for pace work. The miles flew over and I approached the 15 mile point with a sense of dread. I knew I had set off too fast for a training run and the next 5 miles at marathon pace we’re going to be painful.
Somehow I managed to keep on pace which I’m hoping to run London speeding up to 6:30 min miles and quicker. I know the feeling well of being past in the last few miles of a race, so was a real joy as I sped past runners all the way to the finish. My pace dropped slightly for the last 2 miles but still on pace over the whole last 5 which was a nice surprise.
So ends my 34 miles in 2 day, almost feel like a crazy ultra runners. Maybe one day but for now I hear London Calling. A great weekends running and a nice challenge.
This was to be my one and only 20 mile training run during my London Marathon program! The “Jack Daniels” program I’m following is designed around not running any further than 150 minutes (two and a half hours).
I guess Wrekenton XC the day before isn’t the greatest preparation for a 20 mile race but my intention was just to run it at a comfortable pace… I’d read Rachel Terry’s report from last year and had spoken to other Striders who had recommended the race, in previous years I’d gone across to Lancashire to run the Trimpell 20 but I fancied something more local this time around.
The course is used for the Redcar parkrun I believe, which is simply a one mile lap around Locke Park. So 3 laps for the parkrun and 20 laps for this race! The thought of laps hadn’t put me off, lots of track sessions in recent months had gotten me used to them! On arrival with my cheering squad (Katy and Heidi) we bumped into The Fords who were also running and the lovely Louise Barrow and Maddie who had very kindly come along for Strider support.
Before long we were off in nice conditions, cool with a gentle breeze. The laps consisted of a few twists and turns, 2 bridges crossing the lake and some stretches where you could pick your pace up if needed. I ran a lap with Caroline Teasdale from Crook AFC who was looking very comfortable as was her husband Rob who lapped me twice during the race! You’re never on your own due to the nature of the race because you’re always either passing or being passed. It was nice to exchange a few cheery hellos with The Fords, Katy and Heidi along the way.
As always my pace was ever so slightly a bit to quick but hey I felt good so I decided to follow the Jon Ayres school of negative splits and I managed to push on a little in the 2nd half. I finished in around 2:24 and gladly accepted a very snazzy medal!
A special mention to some of the best marshals I have come across, they were constantly cheery offering support throughout which is no easy task bearing in mind they see each runner 20 times! Don’t be put off by the laps folks, this is a fantastic, well organised run.
Graeme and I ran this last year as part of our marathon training, following a lead from Shaun a couple of years ago. This year we were also able to tempt Jane Ives and also Debs Goddard for whom this would be her longest run so far in training for the London marathon in company with much of the field. It was a bit of an early start but it didn’t take us that long to get there, despite me overriding Graeme’s Sat Nav and taking us the wrong way round Lancaster’s ring road for the second year running.
Race HQ is also the club hut for Lancaster& Morecambe AC, which is right next to the running track at Salt Ayre Sports Centre where the Trimpell 20 starts and finishes. Everything you need (changing, toilets and a cuppa) was right there and although there was no official baggage store we felt fine to leave our bags in a quiet corner.
Debs had told us that she was a fan of the Marathon Talk podcast on the way down so it was a great pleasure of mine to be able to introduce her to one of the hosts, and parkrun UK MD Tom Williams, who was also kind enough to take a group shot of us.
The run itself was pretty uneventful, a larger than last year (I think) field set off on the track then out through the cycle circuit and onto the river (Lune) path via a quick loop at the Trimpell end. I’d always thought Trimpell was a place or an area but on doing research for this have since found it was an amalgamation of companies, Trinidad Leaseholds, Imperial Chemical Industries and Shell Oil who provided a Sports and Social Club for their employees.
The river path has the virtue of being sheltered which was a godsend as it was quite a windy day. Graeme and I were aiming to get me round at marathon pace (8.12 miles), while Jane and Debs were aiming for a slightly more gentle pace.
Graeme has to be one of the easiest runners to run with and we soon clocked up the miles – this was a lot easier than the previous week’s Locke Park 20 for which I ran long stretches alone. Just after 13 miles you turn again and head for home. I wasn’t intending to speed up in the second half but I now know just how competitive Graeme is and that every runner ahead is a target to be beaten – especially the ladies, I guess that’s how he still manages to keep ahead of Katy too.
Anyway the last few surges didn’t kill me and we finished just under our goal time, with a nice little positive split. I’m not sure I’d have liked to run another 6.2 miles at that stage but I guess that’s what the taper is for.
Jane and Debs followed shortly and we collected our T-shirts, only cotton sadly but more than made up for by the first medal of 2014 for me. There was also a sandwich, a chocolate bar and a banana so all good value. The race was also chip timed with plentiful water stations and absolutely great, friendly marshals. We hung around for the presentations then relaxed while Graeme drove the long way back – he certainly earned the full mixed grill in the Duke of Wellington that night!
I was a little hesitant in entering this race – a 20 lap course didn’t really appeal to me but it was close to home and would be a good preparation race for my spring marathon so I thought I’d give it a go. PeterMac, Steph and Alister were also entered so we travelled over to Redcar together on a lovely spring morning. There was plenty of parking at the college just opposite the park and within a few minutes we had collected our numbers and commemorative mugs from the bowls club and had plenty of time to relax before the race started. The race was capped at 125 people so it had a bit of a Parkrun atmosphere about it as everyone lined up at the start.
After a few minutes delay we were off on lap one. The route follows the parkrun course, is very flat and winds in and about the park. There are a couple of tight turns, two small bridges to cross and a duck pond with fountain to run around. After the first lap the sun came out and I realised I was going to boil in my thermal layer so quickly stripped down to my vest, dropping my top on my bag as I passed. I figured I could always pick it up again later if it got cool!
To my surprise I really enjoyed the laps and looked forward to seeing the girl handing out jelly beans by the café, taking the first tight corner out of the breeze into the shelter of the trees, heading to the bottom of the park and the half-mile marker that seemed to come round so quickly, along to the marshal shouting out encouraging comments by the first bridge, over the bridge to the smiley marshal who clapped for me every single lap (thank you!), glancing across the pond to try and spot familiar faces to wave and shout encouragement at, over the second bridge to the two lovely ladies, running around the pond past the fountain and then taking the second tight bend and heading back up to the start and water stations. The great bonus of the course was the constant support you had all the way round, not only from the spectators but from locals taking a walk with their kids and all the other runners who passed me or who were passed by me. It really was a great atmosphere. It was also good to know I could grab a drink or pop to the loo at every mile! It was lovely to see fellow Striders Jacquie, Greta, Issy and Bill who came along for the last few laps to cheer us on and hand out Haribo and Freddie frogs! Thanks to you all!
The race really did exceed my expectations – it was so very friendly, well organised and I’d certainly do it again. All four Striders performed brilliantly with all of us coming in under 3 hours!
To give this report some kind of context I think it would be wise of you to read last year’s reports. If you can’t be bothered to do that then I’ll give you a quick summary. The weather was poo, the course was shortened missing out the summits of Cheviot and Hedgehope to a distance of 15 miles (if you didn’t get lost!), Sue and Angela needed rescuing after 4.5 miles after getting lost and Nigel and I made it round to enjoy tea and buns whilst admiring the quality of Northumberland’s mud that had pasted itself to our bodies.
Right, now you’re up to speed with that, I’ll begin my report starting in February when the entries opened. I received an email advising that the entries were open on the Monday and like every other email I get I didn’t respond to it until a week later, too late, the race was full!
Last year was my first attempt at this race and as it had been shortened due to the weather I felt that I hadn’t actually ran this race properly so I was a little disappointed that I’d missed the entries. A quick email to the organisers got me on the waiting list and low and behold I eventually got a place.
Fast forward to July 6th and the weather this year couldn’t have been more different, unbroken sunshine and hot, hot temperatures meant this was going to be tough. Arriving in Woooler for registration and kit check I was quite surprised that we were still required to carry full body cover, especially since the conditions meant the needed to carry extra fluids.
So, smothered in factor 50 suncream, I made my way to the start and we were off, up the road and into the valley towards the first checkpoint at Broadstruther. The heat was making its presence felt, this was not going to be an easy race.
With the first check point in the bag it was off up to the second at Cheviot Knee where last year’s race turned off. This is where it all started to unravel. From here the climb up to Cheviot summit becomes one long, straight hands-on-knees slog to its peak at 2,676ft. There was a slight breeze blowing across the higher reaches but it just didn’t temper the heat which was getting more intense.
On reaching the summit I checked in and had a sit down to regain my breath. This year I’ve ran an ultramarathon, ran to the top of Scafell Pike and conquered the Swaledale marathon but this was proving to be a real beast of a race. Rest over; it was back off for a near vertical descent into the valley across the burn and back up the steep, trackless valley side to the summit of Hedgehope Hill at 2,348ft.
It’s fair to say I was knackered by the time I got to this point, 10 miles in and I was beginning to suffer in the heat. The descent off Hedgehope was steep and turned my legs to jelly. These two summits had been missing from last year’s race and what a difference they make, mixed with the heat meant the next 10 miles back to the finish were going to be hard won. I was pretty much walking up to the next checkpoint where I had another sit down before heading off to try and finish the race.
Breaking into a canter, I managed to get my legs moving enough to carry me to Brands Corner where I was handed a packet of Hula Hoops by one of the marshals. The salt hit was just what I needed to tackle the next section along the burn towards the dreaded Hells Path and in the heat; it really did fell like I was in Hell!
From here I pretty much gave up trying to run, I was just too exhausted and so the last 3 miles back to the finish were a long walk. With my feet on fire and muscles screaming I crossed the finish line where a lovely lady stood with a hose pipe ready to cool down the hot racers, the best part of the whole day!
It’s fair to say I nearly put myself off ever wanting to run this race again, but I think I’ll be back next year for another crack, but only if it’s less hot.
Alister and I travelled across to this race as preparation for Sunderland Marathon. The journey was problem free across the A66/M6 with some iffy looking weather across the high ground thankfully clearing as we reached Lancaster. We arrived with time to spare at the race headquarters, picked up our numbers and chilled out for a while with a pre race cuppa. The start time soon came around so we congregated on the track where the race was to start and listened to the race briefing and then we were off. Alister was aiming for a 20 mile PB that had eluded him for 2 years so we had a race plan that consisted of 8:30 pace with a negative split hopefully.
A lap of the track broke us in gently and then we were off onto the cycle path of which most of the race took part on. We quickly settled into a nice rhythm with lots of runners passing us in the early stages, Alister commenting at this point that many of these would come back to us as the race progressed. This proved to be very true and within 3-4 miles the hares were being caught by the tortoises. The race is advertised as “flat” and this as definitely the case, with the whole route being virtually hill free apart from the odd little bump and all on tarmac. We eased through the course nattering away whilst rewarding ourselves with gels and jelly babies, the mile markers ticking by. Water stations every couple of miles or so including sweets and chocolates were manned by very cheery people helping us along the way.
Some parts of the route were out and back so we were privileged enough to see the front runners and one guy in particular who went on to win the race in 1:52 which if my sums are correct gave an average per mile of around 5:37!!! We passed him when we were at around 10 miles and he was at 15 miles! Miles 10-16 proved to be reasonably comfortable and we had now turned for home. Alister and I parted company at the “Parkrun to go” point as I increased my pace a little for the final part of the race. The race came back onto the track for the finish which was a nice touch and I crossed the line pretty much exhausted with Alister coming in just a few seconds behind breaking his PB following his immaculately paced effort including a negative split.
A Mars Bar, Sandwich and Tech T Shirt were our reward for a very enjoyable day out. Stiff muscles and funny walks were evident – 20 miles is a long long way after all. This race as well as other 20 mile races (Spen 20. East Hull 20) are invaluable training sessions for anyone who is taking part in a spring Marathon.
I have a real love/hate relationship with this race. When I first did it in 2011 as part of my first marathon preparations I found it, if not easy, then certainly manageable to run at my intended marathon pace and it was a huge boost when I got round in less than 3 hours. I knew then that my target, which previously I’d thought very ambitious of sub 4 hours at London was actually well within reach and so it proved. Fast forward a year and I was so blaze about it (and hungry for GP points if the truth be known) that I ran Dent the day before and did justice to neither, blowing up just after half way and trailing in half an hour slower.
This year I wanted to get that monkey of my back but I had the slight snags of no-one to go with (previous years had been great Striders road trips), man-flu to recover from and the grand total of 65 miles training in February due to various ails (about half of previous years). Oh and awful weather thrown into the mix too. The good news was I had a pacemaker, former club member Keri, who’d agreed to try my race pace as a gentle stroll round pre-London.
As it happens the journey down was hitch free and I arrived at the Princess Mary stadium in Cleckheaton (or Liversedge or Spenborough or Kirklees – it’s very confusing where one town ends and another starts around here) with loads of time to kill. I handed over the parkrun kit I’d brought down for Keri (who’s starting the second Hull parkrun in Peter Pan park, Pickering in April) and chatted with another couple of runners I’ve come to know including Sharon Gayter, ultra world record holder.
Before long we were off. The race starts on the track itself and you complete a lap and a bit (presumably to spread the field out) before winding your way up and onto the streets. I should mention at this junction that this isn’t a race for those who don’t like to mix with traffic. Is this a Yorkshire thing? I feel sure that if the run were run up here the local police or Safety Advisory group wouldn’t be happy but no-one down here seems to blink an eye. That’s not a criticism in any way, it obviously helps to keep costs down and as long as you’re sensible and don’t wear headphones it’s not a problem. The marshalling here is great by the way and they had my full sympathy standing around for hours in less than ideal conditions they were remarkably cheerful and supportive.
The first 2 or 3 miles is uphill, which is good as it helps you to remember to keep the pace down. Once you get up to the tops (not far from the Hartshead moor services on the M62) there’s a big 5-6 mile loop,a smaller 3ish mile loop which goes some of the other way, another lap of the big 5-6 mile loop and then you finally head home, almost all downhill.
Keri and I had a great 10 miles chatting and holding exactly the pace I was looking for to achieve a 20 mile PB, and testing the pace I intend to run my next marathon at. It felt good all the way until about 11 and a half miles when the wind got up and threatened to steal my Striders hat and Keri felt a tweak in her knee and had to drop back (sensibly pulling out a little later). It got harder on my own from here but I still made it through half marathon distance only a touch slower than last week at Haweswater. An easy mile downhill helped me pick up the pace little and give me a comfortable cushion. It was at about 15-16 miles that I ran out of miles in my legs and after that the slightest gradient became a struggle – not what you want around here. I slowed, almost to and then to an actual walk for the last couple of hills, but managed to keep running downhill, eventually popping back out on the track, even overtaking one runner on it.
Crossing the line I was a little sad not to achieve my pre-race 20 mile PB goal, but nonetheless happy with a steady run, despite the walking coming in almost exactly the same time as two years ago.
The memento this year was a nice pair of purple gloves, which I’m sure you’ll all soon be sick of seeing in race photos and I can’t recommend this race enough at a very reasonable £10.20 to enter. To put this into perspective if the Great North Run adopted the same pricing policy it would cost less than seven quid 🙂 Hope some more of you will join me next year?
Recently, I’ve been joining in the long runs organised by Sue, Greta and the rest of the lovely Sunday Morning Crew as part of their marathon training so have been increasing my ‘distance PB’ (the furthest I’ve ever run in one go) quite a lot. Alister had the Spen 20 and the East Hull 20 pencilled into his marathon training plans months ago and, as both races approached, I began to wonder whether I should have a bash! He advised against the tough and ‘quite undulating’ [i.e. blinkin’ hilly] Spen 20, and, having read the race reports, I’m glad he did (but much respect to those that took it on!!). I thought the East Hull 20, described by Alister as ‘flat and, frankly, dull’ starting just 15 minutes from my mum and dad’s house, sounded more appealing (the ‘flat’ bit, not the ‘dull’ bit!). I ummed and ahhed and thought about it, then saw that online entries had closed because it was full so I popped a sneaky postal entry in that same day and let fate decide. Sure enough I managed to get myself a number. Gulp!
On race day I tried to get myself into the ‘it’s just a training run’ mentality to calm my churning stomach and jangling nerves, but it didn’t really work and I spent the morning completely terrified and trying to work out how I would get back to the car if I couldn’t complete the course. The route was a ‘lollipop’-shaped affair, out of the east side of Hull and through the villages with a 4-mile loop around Long Riston and then back along the first eight miles or so. The thought of 20 long miles and up to four hours of running all on my own (I was convinced I’d be in last place with no-one anywhere near me) without the company of Greta, Sue and the gang was overwhelmingly horrible! An early arrival at the Race HQ to collect our numbers gave me plenty of time to look at all the finely-honed athletes in the final throes of their marathon preparations and wonder at my sanity in even considering attempting 20 miles! Gulp! It was a welcome distraction, however, to spot one such finely-honed specimen: ex-Strider Keri Pearson, now a City of Hull AC runner and training for the London Marathon, was glad to see us. I was reassured that she seemed almost as nervous as me but she looked in great shape as she jogged away to warm up.
I’d just begun to try to think of convincing reasons to drop out of the race when I spotted another familiar face. During the Humber Bridge half marathon last year, I made friends with and ran much of the way round with a local lady called Jo and it was a relief to see her face at East Hull. She seemed almost as pleased to see me! We quickly decided to be running buddies so we wouldn’t have to complete the course alone and we agreed to stick together to at least 10 miles. By the time the race began, and Alister began to disappear into the distance ahead of me, I was feeling a bit calmer and jogged along happily chatting to Jo. All the Sundays spent jogging along the railway tracks, gossiping with Greta and Sue and the gang, have really paid off as the miles ticked passed very quickly without boredom or any early fatigue. The weather was stunning and the blue sky and sunshine made me feel happy to be a runner as we pootled along clocking up the miles. As we approached 8 miles, and the start of the ‘lollipop’ loop, we saw the leaders storm past on their way back towards the finish and we cheered them on their way. As we turned onto the ‘lollipop’ of the loop, the leaders were no longer in view but we spotted something we thought we wouldn’t see on a run in East Yorkshire: hills! Jo was a bit concerned about having hills on the ‘relatively flat’ course and there were other grumbles and worries from those around us. I was very glad that I’d completed the Dentdate a couple of weeks ago because I couldn’t understand what they were complaining about. They weren’t REALLY hills – a slight incline, granted, but they should REALLY try doing their training around Durham if they want to appreciate some actual hills! A couple of ladies were heard to complain about the ‘hills’ leading down to and up from an underpass – it’s more hilly during the Durham parkrun!!!! This entertained me hugely and gave me confidence and, at 12 miles, although my legs were starting to tire, I was finding the pace very manageable (just over 10 minute miles) and was beginning to feel that I would be able to complete the course. After the loop was completed, we returned to the final 8-mile stretch back down to the start and headed home. Jo was clearly feeling fresher than me and I was beginning to feel a bit pooped, but I stuffed some jelly beans and jelly babies down my neck and kept my water levels topped up at all the drink stations (one every 3-4 miles, which I thought was very good!) and kept plodding onwards. A friend of Jo’s joined us at 14 miles which meant I was able to let them go on ahead and slow my own pace as I was beginning to struggle. From 14 to 15 miles I really started to feel like I was running out of steam, but I crammed in more jelly beans and took it easy for a mile or so.
At 16 miles, I perked up again and started counting down the steps until the magic ‘only a parkrun to go’ point at 16.9 miles. This has become a habit for me recently and it REALLY works. I visualise my beloved Durham parkrun route as I plod along the last 5k of a race. It’s a welcome distraction and helps me focus on something other than the pain in my legs! It worked a treat at Dent, where I did the fastest 5k of the run at the very end (unheard of for me!) and it began to work in East Hull as, despite the sun beating down, I started to pick people off. The last 5k at East Hull is REALLY REALLY boring, along a very straight old railway line, so I visualised different scenery for myself to make it more bearable. With Dougie’s ‘parkrun pacing’ points firmly in my head, I caught the first couple of runners as early on as ‘Horsley corner’ (17.2 miles) and hit the ‘noisy bridge’ (17.6 miles) feeling strong. The ‘playing fields’ section was quite tough, but as I joined the ‘riverside path’ (18.5 miles) I knew I would soon be seeing the castle and the cathedral. In my head, obviously. Or maybe I really was starting to hallucinate! The rest of the race runners left the long railway line section (and I enjoyed the mental view of the parkrun bandstand finish for the first time) at about 19 miles, and at that point I knew I was going to finish and complete the longest race I’d ever attempted without needing to stop or walk! Yippee!!
The last section through the housing estate (i.e. along the riverside path towards Baths bridge) was quite nice as people were outside their houses enjoying the sunshine and cheering us on. Visualising the bandstand ahead of me I tried to stride out along the last few hundred metres, and saw Alister next to the route, waiting to cheer me in. Hearing his shout of ‘you’ll break 3:30’ I went a bit mad and did a sprint finish, nearly knocking two ladies into the oncoming traffic!! As I hit the finish line, I had a bit of an odd moment where I wanted to stop running but my legs didn’t seem to get the message and one of the lovely marshals had to catch hold of me, explaining (very slowly and clearly!) that I’d now finished and might want to stop running! I managed to regain control of my limbs and slowed to a walk while I battled a weird emotional moment that saw me wanting to laugh hysterically and sob all at the same time. Very strange! Poor Alister must have been a bit concerned to see me wobbling away into the distance, wailing and drunkenly staggering along on wonky legs, looking likely to fall into the road at any second! Luckily I still remembered to stop the Garmin! Sub-3:30. Yay!!!!
I had regained my composure somewhat by the time he got to me to feed me water and jelly babies and to try to persuade me to stop walking (he found me walking around and around and around in small circles beyond the finish area!!). Once I’d regained control of all my faculties and the urge to cry had passed completely, I was just about in a fit state to drink my recovery milkshake (those things are amazing!) and to collect my race memento – a lovely sports bag that’ll do perfectly for my swimming gear! In summary, it turned out that I actually enjoyed the race! The course was flat. And it was a long way. And it was pretty boring in places. But I was pleased with my time and overjoyed that I didn’t need to stop or walk at all! Alister had a great run, too, and Keri did a good job to finish 10th lady (although she was cross with herself because she had a bit of a ‘gel’ incident and felt that, otherwise, she’d have finished in the top three!). Definitely a good race for marathon preparations. Or even if, like me, you have no intention of doing a marathon. Ever… Maybe…!
Vid of the start: Alister’s visible only by the fluorescent yellow hat! I go past (talking, obviously) after 2 minutes!
I’d somehow allowed myself to be conned into doing this race on the pretext that it would be a good preparation for our forthcoming marathon. Alister had volunteered to do the driving and picked me up at 7:20 and Sue and Angela shortly later at Bowburn, then headed off down the motorway into the blinding morning sunshine. It was a gorgeous day. Last year Angela and Alister had done it in cold wind and rain; this year we were regretting having too many layers and all agreed we should have just worn or vests. We all came home with a bit of sunburn.
The course was a convoluted double loop within a loop up and down the hills around Cleckheaton, starting and finishing with a lap of the running track. I remember passing a pub, the Grey Ox, and thinking I’m glad this steep bit is downhill, only to find half an hour later we were coming back up the same hill. By the 16 mile mark I was regretting having set off far too fast and started to slow down, then in the last few miles at least a dozen folk I’d passed earlier all got past me. At least the last bit was downhill and a flat finish on the track to collect our prize bottles of the local brewed beer. I was starting to worry where Alister was as the minutes ticked by, but of course he was somewhat handicapped by having done 14 miles at Dent the day before. Angela came in not far behind, followed by Sue. Once we’d got enough strength back in our legs to walk back to the car it was back up the motorway with a stop at the services for Double Whopper burgers at Burger King.
I thought I’d survived it well with only a blister on my little toe – only to learn on the news the next day that all that processed red meat had shortened my life by several years!
As many of you know I am running my first ever marathon at London in just under 4 weeks now. I have really struggled with the necessary slow runs and looked forward to the later stages of my training programme where the ‘fun’ races were. This could not have been much more of a contrast with Spen 20 the previous week. That was all hills and a relatively small field. This was, with the exception of a couple of very small stretches, flat as a pancake and had just under 400 runners – all of whom I spoke to seemed to be using this as training for the VLM. I stayed over at my in-laws in Beverley the night before as I didn’t want to be rushing around the morning of the race and this was very prudent.
The race itself sets off from Wilberforce College in East Hull and the first mile or so took us to the outskirts of the city, on very well-marshalled roads, before heading out along country roads, farm tracks and a disused railway line. I was feeling very good on this stretch, settling along with a group of other runners at about 8.45-8.50 pace with the intention of having a negative split on the way back and just beating my one week old 20 mile PB. In the end boredom was the enemy. It was a lovely mild day, I felt good, but the scenery was a little too serene and I found myself attacking what small hills there were (thanks Geoff and Susan!) and leaving behind the group I was with, and ending up going along a little quicker than my race plan. After turning back for home, I again picked up the pace a little and though there was a long monotonous stretch on the railway line with a bit of a headwind between 16.5 and 18.5 miles that really seemed to drag, when we entered the housing estate at the end I still felt pretty fresh and strong, so I put on another spurt. There was a bit of a cruel hill climb at 19.5 miles and I caught quite a few runners here, and the last stretch was a little tricky as you were up and down the kerb quite a bit, which was tiring on by now tired legs.
I managed to finish in 2.51.04 according to the official results which I was very pleased with. The race was organised brilliantly with loads of cheery marshalls and good drinks stations with bottles of water, rather than plastic cups, at about 3.5, 7.5, 11.5 and 15.5 miles if my memory serves me correctly. The memento was a very nice Parker pen which made a nice change from the usual T-shirt.