I was really looking forward to this race, especially as it fitted in nicely with Yorkshire Marathon training.
I was a bit apprehensive after Hugh’s killer hill session had left me with sore hamstrings (ok, ok I could have stretched). A good few familiar Otley faces set off from the Yew Tree pub with Shane Ewen scampering off ahead, followed by Richard Smith, myself and Gary Mann (Valley Striders) up the long hill to the aerial.
A bit of ‘exploratory navigation’ from Shane brought the field back together with Ian Rowbotham (Ilkley) now looking strong in first.
The long descent allowed me to stretch my legs and get into first with Shane not far behind. So it came as some surprise when Ian Rowbotham popped out 500m ahead at Swinsty dam. He then realised he’d taken a pretty big shortcut and, good on him, set off back to pick up where he left off.
So after the dam and a drink it was the long climb out of the valley, steep roads and trail really taking it out of my legs but the views up there are stunning.
A quick look behind and it was Richard and Gary Mann in hot pursuit now. Some map checking let them catch up, so the three of us set off down the long descent to the road below Lindley Wood reservoir.
I took some risks to get a bit of a gap on the other two on the steeper descent as knew Richard would be strong on the hill up to Farnley. I didn’t realise that they actually took a wrong turn about this point.
After the ‘second Otley 10’ hill I was now thinking I should win from here when disaster struck and I had to get my map out. I must have looked a right sight as I ran back towards Richard, map flapping and a whole flock of sheep following me thinking I was gonna feed them!
Back on track and swearing at myself under my breath for messing up and letting the others catch up I gritted my teeth and set off down to Otley, knowing that Rich would have the beating of me in a sprint (as he’s what, 21?). Luckily this didn’t materialise and I held on to take the win in 1.46.06, eighteen seconds ahead of Richard Smith (1.46.24).
A good bit of grub, a pint and a trophy and all the aches were forgotten. A great morning out running. Looking forward to next year, just don’t invite too many fasties Liam 😉
Also for OAC, Neil Charlton finished eighteenth (2.07.35), Laura Martin 22nd (2.14.51), Caron Ralph 25th (2.20.30), Sarah Smith 26th (2.20.30), Sara Richard 27th (2.24.41) and Julian Mawson 29th (2.28.45).
Photos by Liam and Charlotte Dunne here.
Race report in the Wharfedale Observer.