Report from Howard Jeffrey:
5948 people finished the Sheffield half marathon today. The conditions were just about perfect with cool air, around 8 degrees and rising, no wind, warm sunshine and clear blue skies. The roads were closed and the organisation and marshalling were first class and the people of Sheffield turned out in their thousands to cheer us all on. The start was a little bit congested where I was stationed which was just behind the 1 hr 40 pacer. I have done the Sheffield half a couple of times from the now defunct Don Valley stadium. Once it was hilly and they changed the course and it was quite flat. I think this course has been run a few times ( a couple of years ago no water arrived and they cancelled the race but the runners went and did it anyway!) and I only had a vague notion of the profile. The slow congested start was Ok as it allowed for a nice warm up into the pace. From the city centre it started to rise gradually almost immediately and I had lost contact with the pacer who seemed to be miles away in the distance. I felt pretty good so I guessed he must have been going too fast. I got to mile one in about 8 minutes, which is 1.44 pace so the pacer was about spot on it was me that was slow. The way had opened out a bit so still feeling OK and still going uphill I got into a steady stride and caught the pacer up by the next mile. By mile three we were still going uphill at less than 8 minute mile pace and we were out of the city and into some lovely countryside with some long views. Mile four and still heading uphill, pacer still around but the rate seemed way off to me. Mile five and still going uphill! This was beginning to feel like Liversedge and Harewood all over again when I could only muster 1.45.
At around the five mile marker or just beyond you reached the high point and I could see what seemed to be thousands (it was!) of runners snaking downhill in front. At last some me time! I took a slight lean forward and let gravity do some of the work and left the pacer as I was not convinced we would make 1.40. After a mile and a half of comfortably quick downhill was the half way marker with a digital display. 55.55!!
What? That would be 1.52 at the finish at the same rate!! Thankfully it was pretty much downhill all the way to the finish and I was able to build up a head of steam on the descent. The second half I did in 42.20 ( nearly 2 minutes a mile faster!) to finish in 1.37.17 chip time. Still felt good towards the finish and picked out a couple of guys to chase down who I thought might be in my age group. One of them was and I beat him by 10 seconds on gun time to finish 2nd out of 95 in the age group. First was 10 minutes ahead so I will have to race him another day!
The race was won by John Franklin of Serpentine AC in 1.10.24. First lady was Zanthe Wray unattached in 1.23.12. I was 613th in the end. Mary Hampshire from Otley AC was 2084th in 1.55.00 gun time 1.54.22 chip. The only other representative from Otley. Although Otley Totley (of which there were legion) is all the same to the good people of Sheffield, unless they were shouting come on’t Otley!!??