Report from Howard Jeffrey:
The trouble with looking at a route on a flat screen, or piece of paper, is that you can see whether it twists and turns, like a twisty turny thing which this route did but not if it ups and downs, like an up and downy thing which this one also did, in spades. The route was described as ‘challenging’ and having done the Harewood 10 many times, I thought I knew what I was in for but alas no. There were pre-race dire warnings about how wet and muddy the course might in places be but in fact generally the going was good to soft. At the start the sun was shining and there was a slight breeze, with the temperature about 4 to 5 degrees. I had my leggings long T shirt, T shirt, vest gloves and hat so I was fine and was able to marvel at the setting really. Harewood House stands in a large area of landscaped grass and woodland with, I found out later, a lovely secret swan lake. Enough of the ballet and on with the race. The announcer stated there were about 1400 starters and it was all in aid of heart research. Countdown from 10 and we were off. I had stationed myself fairly close to the front as I had intended to put some effort in today for a hard work-out. The first half mile was along a made up track with a few waterlogged divets but nothing you could not avoid quite easily. There was a bit of a surge of runners overtaking me but I was happy with the pace I was going. We went down ‘heartbreak hill’ which is the sting in the tail of the Harewood 10 which made a refreshing change, on nice tarmac too! Felt good so opened up a bit down to the bottom where you join one of the first tracks through the woods and then up the first hill. No problem. I caught site of an Otley vest in front so had the first mark to aim for. The route then just went down and up and down and up across the open grass, through the woods and along the trails. There were some bits of bog on the sheltered paths but nothing too drastic and some squelchy muddy bits on the grassy slopes. The worst bits for me were the paths through the woods with a lot of trips that were hard to see because the chilly air made your eyes water and the adverse camber on a lot of the sloping grass sections. There was one lengthy steep stretch of downhill, on some very uneven grass and I confess I went down gingerly, to avoid an ankle twist (of which I witnessed a few), so I will never be a fell runner!
I caught the Otley vest at about 5 miles and it turned out to be Andrew Barker doing his first half marathon. Take it from me, who has done probably the best part of 200 halves, that apart from Great Langdale, I can’t remember ever doing a tougher one! So a PB for Andrew and the rest should seem easy by comparison. We ran together for a couple of miles and I started to pull away because I felt pretty good today. The sun was out and I began to feel well over dressed for the day as it warmed up. The cycle training definitely helped me up the hills because I more than held my own which was good because from 8 to 9 was a tough wet grade. Then a short uneven down stretch and up again to 10. At 10 the route descends parallel to the Harrogate road and I was in my element piling down the hill to 11. Up again avoiding the many dog walkers and an ambulance, heading for some unfortunate further back in the field. You all turn back towards the 12 mile mark away from the House , where the finish is which was a bit disheartening. Although it was downhill the terrain seemed very sticky and hard work but I was still passing most people till the bottom approaching mile 13. There is a sting in the tale for this one as well, as the nice stone track drags up towards the house again and you finish on the lawns in front adjacent to the start. It seemed like a very long 0.1 of a mile from 13 to the finish and I think it probably was. I crossed the line in 1.42.14 so was pleased to beat my Liversedge time on what was a much harder route. Andrew came in around 1.45/46 which was a good baptism. I bet he can hardly wait for the next one! Not aware of any other Otley runners and no sign of the general results just yet.