Running is Mental!
The Yorkshire Marathon; Oct 11th 2015
The Mighty Reds were out in force at The PlusNet Yorkshire Marathon, the third to be held in York, with nine representatives sporting the famous vest in near perfect Autumnal conditions.
The race was a well organised affair, with enough razzamatazz to get nervous runners whipped into a frenzy. Set within the University campus, runners were greeted by a buzzing ‘race village’, with a live PA providing the jokes and the shout-outs. The ‘Park and Run’ service between the village and large parking area ensured easy access to, and exit from the start and finish, definitely worth its weight in gold after 26.2 tough miles!
Billed as ‘mainly flat’, racers are taken through the picturesque city of York before wheeling out into the peace and quiet of the Yorkshire countryside. The route then consisted of tranquil lanes through rolling fields and forests, interspersed with well supported hubs at Stockton, Stamford Bridge and Dunnington, before doubling back for the ‘business end’ of the race from mile 19 onwards. Although it’s certainly no mountain race, a leg- sapping climb between 18.5 and 20 is timed just as many runners are hitting the infamous ‘wall’ (luckily I’d hit that miles earlier. In your face, course designers), and a steep quarter-mile climb back up to the finishing straight, are just two of the features that make this a deceptively challenging course.
But hey, we’re Harriers! We laugh in the face of ‘tough’, and fart in the general direction of ‘challenging’… David Butt wiped the floor with all but 6 runners in his category, whilst Carole Fee came 19th in hers. Steve Taylor continued his already PB-heavy season with another personal milestone, and James Pearson and Darren White continued to demonstrate the growing strength in depth that the Harriers are beginning to enjoy. Elsewhere, me, Mark Starkey and Rob Wells ground out creditable finishes.
Performance of the day though, went to the baby-faced assassin – Dr Danny ‘Indiana’ Jones, breaking, nay, smashing the 3 hour barrier for the first time in 28 attempts with a 2:55:18 – 49th overall and 16th in his category (Men’s archaeologist adventurer under 15’s. A new one on me).
From a personal angle, this race brought home just how much you need to respect the marathon distance. In spite of the fantastic support in some of the major villages, the nature of the route meant you had plenty of handy, very quiet, monotonous ‘alone’ time between miles 20 and 24. Here, I had chance to contemplate just how painful the cramp, blisters and pulls were, which is always my favourite part of a marathon. In that time, I got angry with my trainers; my socks; the inventor of the marathon; my decision not to use my GPS to pace; a tractor; my next door neighbour (long story), and, as my delicate nipples took the brunt of what felt like a gravel track rubbing against them with every stride, and my gentleman’s area caused a concentrated inferno at the top of my thighs, the manufacturers of all running attire were on the verge of getting strongly worded emails about how inconsiderate their design processes were. I was also pretty annoyed that Jelly Babies were so hard to chew.
In fact, I was only experiencing what every marathon runner faces at some point. Pushing ourselves beyond our limits is as much about mental fortitude as it is about physical fitness. As club runners who compete regularly, it’s very easy to get blasé about what we’ve achieved whenever we race. I personally lost sight of this at the finish line and got grumpy with my performance (which, incidentally, had nothing to do with tractors or jelly babies, and everything to do with poor prep). On reflection, nearly 5000 people had just defied what their minds and bodies were telling them, had got the blisters, the cramps, the chafes, had blamed the tractors and the jelly babies for being unreasonable – and had the medal to prove it. Pretty amazing.
This nice, challenging, well organised race will surely grow over the coming years. I’d fully recommend it as an event, and hope it maintains the right blend of being both club and corporate friendly. With some great performances after a long season, next year looks like it will be another one full of major milestones for our growing family! Onwards to Snowdon, and then to 2016…
Images courtesy of Yorkshire Runners Photos. More Images: