Bolton Abbey Trail Marathon 2016
This was to be my 5th marathon of the year and I was unsure what to expect having never been to Bolton Abbey before. It had been described as a 3 lap undulating trail run. People I spoke to who had been there said it was quite hilly.
The race started at 8.00am and I had estimated the journey as taking about 1hr 45. When travelling James and I like to give an hours leeway, just in case. I set off in good time, picking up James and Guy and leaving Hull at around 5.15am. It was Guy’s birthday, so we wished him well.
As is customary, we stopped off en-route for a leg stretch. The last services was Ferrybridge, so we took the opportunity to stop there. Unfortunately I got a bit confused on the way back to the motorway and ended up travelling East on the M62, luckily this was remedied in about 5 mins, when I came off and re-entered in the right direction.
Having travelled to Grizedale with James a couple of weeks earlier, I should have remembered that the A59 was blocked halfway. Unfortunately this turned out to be about 2 miles from the race start.
When we got to the road block, we took a left turn and negotiated country roads, passing Ilkley and on to our destination, arriving at about 7.40am. In the meantime Sara Morrow, who was travelling with Rich Harrison called to ask which route we had taken as they were at the road block, probably 30 minutes behind us.
We all quickly used the facilities and got our numbers from race hq, rumours abound that the race may start a little late. Whilst we were just about ready to leave the car, having pinned our numbers and got changed, a klaxon went, signalling the start of the race.
Rushing to the start line I realised I had maybe hydrated a little too much and didn’t want to run around for 26.2 miles with a full bladder, so went to the loo. James and Guy both set off a minute or two after the official start.
At this stage I knew that the course wasn’t a pb potential and was already quite a few minutes late, so took my time sorting my energy gels, camelbak and headphones, chatting to the marshals at the start. I got my own honk as I set off at a decent rate.
Immediately the route ascended, going North, parallel to the River Wharfe. I felt no stress and thought I am just going to enjoy myself. Within the first mile I began to overtake the people at the back, as the path gently climbed. The route was quite kind as it wasn’t a long upwards drag, it had several ups and downs, ultimately gaining ascent.
After just over two miles the route crossed the river at Barden Bridge and we continued South along the riverbank. As I approached the crossing I could see Guy on the other side and looked forward to getting up to him and having a quick chat. It was fairly flat running by the side of the river and I made good time, eventually catching Guy at around mile 3. The route became quite narrow and it would have been dangerous to run side by side, so I ran behind him for about half a mile as we began to climb again. I passed Guy when the opportunity arose and said a quick hello/goodbye.
For the next mile or two there were a few ups and downs, however it seemed quite kind and I was enjoying a good stable pace.
We crossed the River Wharfe again at about 5 ½ miles, with Bolton Abbey on our right, continuing South for about a mile across a field. Although muddy the weather had been kind. With little rain over the previous days and cold weather the ground was good underfoot. It was around here I caught a running buddy of mine, Terry Hindson from Redcar Running club. We stayed together for a while, chatting and approximating how long it would take to finish. I knew Rich Rex was also running, but hadn’t seen him. Terry confirmed he was doing well and was quite far up the field, I was glad to hear this as I like all Hull runners to do well.
Looping over the River again, near to Bolton Bridge, we cut back North and into a field with a sign stating “Bull in Field” luckily it was nowhere to be seen. Running through a few fields, we went up and down a couple of muddy hills and double backed towards the Abbey. This confused me and I looked at Terry and another runner, stating we must be lost. I could see the marshall who was near the Abbey and we ran towards him. Luckily he confirmed that we were on the right track and the loop we had taken was part of the course. He sent us North, with the Abbey to our right and back towards the start line.
Without realising it I gradually left Terry and the other runner behind, travelling towards the car park opening, down some steps, along the banks of the river, past Cavendish Pavilion and onto the start line.
Being a 3 lap course, I quickly did my sums and as I passed the start line I knew that the 8.7 miles I had travelled was approximately correct for an accurate marathon. The time was around 1hr 13.
The first lap was probably the hardest, as it was all unknown. On the second lap I was starting to remember the course and this allowed me to know when would be best to take it easy and when would be best to push on.
At around mile 10 I first noticed James ahead of me. I know he is a strong runner and usually finishes just ahead of me. I wanted to catch up to him, so that I could have a chat and make the miles disappear, however I was conscious that in catching him I may blow up.
I slowly made up the ground, sometimes getting closer, other times he pulled away, eventually getting neck and neck at around the 15 mile mark
After a mile or two running together we could see Rexy in the distance. We eventually pulled him in at about mile 17 and said a quick hello, encouraging each other on.
We went through the start line a second time and according to my Garmin the time was around 2hrs 28, so my pace from the previous lap had only very marginally dropped (1hr 15ish lap).
Although we didn’t chat much, it was good to run with James for a few miles. Swapping the odd word as we took it in turns to lead.
It wasn’t my intention to leave James, however around mile 19 I looked around and a small gap had developed between us, which gradually grew.
I was now lapping some runners and was breathing a bit more heavily, however I was more familiar with the route and I knew where I could afford gentle walks. This made it easier for me mentally to break the last few miles down. In fact I quite looked forward to the “hard” parts, where I could be lazy and walk.
Passing each of the marshals on my last lap, I tried to thank as many as possible as I went by.
Nearing the finish I was unsure were the end was as I couldn’t remember seeing one on the previous two laps, however as I approached the start line I was directed over a bridge and the finish was there. My finishing time, according to my Garmin was 3.43.25 so another 1hr 15 lap. Although I had to push in the last lap, I was well happy with my fairly even splits.
If we had have been on time and listened to the race briefing I would have probably been aware of the loop near the Abbey and where exactly to finish, fortunately it didn’t go drastically wrong.
The organiser said she would give my official time as my Garmin time, however I said I wasn’t too fussed as it was my fault I’d started late. She allowed a bit of leeway and gave an official time of 3.44.50.
There was plenty of water available, biscuits, cakes and some alcoholic beverages at the end.
I didn’t have too long to wait for James to come through and we grabbed our goody bags and medals and had a chat with the organiser. The goody bag was a good quality cloth bag, which will come in handy for carrying my gym towel. It contained a couple of bars of chocolate, a couple of pens, a bottle of beer and a few flyers.
Rich Harrison passed us, halfway through his last lap. This was good news as I was unsure if he’d arrived and been able to start.
Rexy finished shortly after and we had a chat with him, before making our way to the car to grab some food and James got changed.
Guy appeared soon afterwards, picking up his goody bag and medal. Photos were taken and we had a quick chat with Sara, whilst she waited for Rich Harrison.
This was the first of many events organised by “itsgrimupnorth” and I must say they did it well. Water stations well situated, good marshalling, fantastic surroundings and amazing goody bag. They are going to host a number of events in Yorkshire, putting on different distances from 10k up to ultra marathon length at each location. There is talk of a run around Holderness and there are a few in the Leeds area. I would definitely recommend looking at their website.
It was a good showing from Hull. Out of 41 Marathon runners who completed the course we finished as follows:-
5th 3.44.50 Dan Newton EHH
7th 3.49.15 James Pearson EHH
8th 3.58.04 Rich Rex COH
13th 4.11.09 Rich Harrison COH
17th 4.16.25 Guy Gibson EHH