Baildon Boundary Way 2nd April 2017
I saw this advertised back in November and happened to be speaking with Judy Nicholson at the Leven Pack Run. She told me how good a race it was and that a few of our members would regularly travel there a few years ago. I know Guy Gibson had run it in 2016 so I thought ‘Why not?’ and duly entered, intending to pick up training around Christmas. Everyone had said the race is OK until about 8 miles then you need to get back to Baildon over the moor so starts to climb….erk alors, I’m not that good on hills! I had vague recollections of other club members entering the event, but more of that later.
Anyway, fast forward almost 4 months and the Christmas/New Year injury has gone (not recommended folks, if you have an appetite like mine!), the Snake has slithered away for another year with an ‘average’ run, and domestic tasks meant I had a weekend off running one week before this race. Not feeling particularly confident I went for a Thursday off-roader with Nippy, Alison and Martin. Turned into a steady 10 miles, so that made up my mind as it is only another 3 miles and I’ve done half marathons on and off since 1983…….so set myself a target of sub-2 hours based on times from 2016.
Up early on the Sunday morning (not too keen on that bit) and on the road not long after 7, so at about 8:45 arrived at the Rugby Club to the biblical ‘no room at the inn’. I jest of course, as the car park was full I parked in the town and jogged back to pick up my number, noting it was a bit up and down. Picked up number, back to the car to change into EHH racing kit, blow-dry my hair and eat a banana (or most of those, anyway).
Jogging to the start who do I see but John Long in the company of our regular crowd-pleasers Chris and Sara. I walked with them while being regaled with tales of the previous day’s drunkenness (always entertaining) and noticed they were desperate to ensure they had the requisite placebos, sorry ‘energy gels’. My favourite quote is ‘we’re even less organised than usual, only got these clothes to go home in’, to which I observed the bar had been lowered by that statement!
We set off on a narrow path and progress seemed hampered by the crowd but 7:56 at a mile in seemed OK. A bit disconcerting to walk a few yards going up before 2 miles but ploughed on and rattled off a couple of reasonable miles on the flat canal path between about 6 and 8 miles. A defining moment in my race happened just before this stretch. Earlier on I saw a group of four runners out for a training run, thought one looked familiar so gave a wave…….fast forward to the next meeting of the group and the man himself Mr Jonny Brownlee, Olympic Silver Medallist, said “good running, well done” as they again approached in the opposite direction. Cheers Jonny I thought and proof if we ever needed it that running is a universal sport which covers all abilities!
After 8 miles the course started to go up steeply through the woods with a labyrinth of tree roots to negotiate and some narrow paths on the descents. I walked a couple of times but eventually got out of there intact, my 10:40 mile 11 being followed by a 7:28 mile 12 which tells its own story. The marshals were plentiful and entertaining, even when we had to negotiate the last hill at 12.5 miles!
I finished in 1:53:41 which pleased me. The course measured at 13.04 on my Garmin (other GPS devices are available) and was apparently half a mile shorter than 2016. Everyone received a quality printed mug and a buff-type garment, which was a great idea and I’m sure will prove as useful as the EHH20 buff from 2015.
I waited for Sara and Chris to come in (can’t say that too often so I’ll milk it!) and received further confirmation they are not too keen on off-road. (Note the dictionary definition of Harrier ‘a cross-country runner’ J). Anyway, we posed for the photo taken by a fellow runner and reproduced here, on which my old adage ‘runners come in all shapes and sizes’ is well demonstrated.
All in all, a great race, highly recommended by me and definitely one for the diary next year when I hope I can coerce a few more of the Red Army to venture there.
Results (361 finishers)
Alisdair Burns Valley Striders 1:20:22
Ruth Moran Horsforth Harriers 1:35:07
EHH Positions and Times
130 Richard Alsop 1:53:41
220 Chris Sumpton 2:05:24
221 Sara Rookyard 2:05:24
328 John Long 2:29:48
329 Ann Long 2:29:52
* Top two images courtesy of Dave Woodhead (http://woodentops.org.uk/)