Report from Howard:
We were spoiled for choice this weekend with the Abbey Dash and the Guy Fawkes 10 for some obscure reason on the same weekend this year. I am an almost ever present at both these events so how to decide which one to do? Simple: do the one that keeps to the calendar date that it always has and the one that keeps changing, ‘boycott’. This week I had put the swimming and cycling on a back burner and got my running training back up to half the ‘normal’ schedule, This together with the fact I decided not to do a parkrun yesterday meant I lined up at the start feeling as sharp as I have for a while. This race has kept amending the start position. First to avoid the bus up the main street which always seemed to delay the start and also now to avoid the tortuous and slippery trek through Ripley Castle grounds. The start is a rapid downhill descent for a hundred yards or so and then up, down and up again through ‘Holly Hill Hell’ as the sign said. This track used to be rutted and stony but was tarmacked last year so this is now effectively a road race in its entirety.
The weather was a bit changeable with persistent rain right up to the start and then the sun came out. It was chill and there was a bit of a breeze. Exactly what the forecast had said, so I was in the right attire for me on the day. I had waited in the car to keep warm and dry so had not really warmed up as I like to. This meant a steady enough start for the first two miles or so. The cool air felt great and I breezed past everyone I had been close to last year and they were all behind by mile 3. Perhaps that is just as well because from there to 4 is ‘heartbreak hill’ which is a real tough and steep grind up. The reward for this is then a lovely fast descent to mile 5 and beyond that another tough but shorter shuffle up to about mile 6. I am able to maintain the effort today and still have a spring in my step down to the 8 mile mark where another long and tortuous ascent bring you back to the tarmacked path through the woods. No matter how many times I do this race I am always caught out by the half mile hill up towards the final descent towards Ripley Castle. I shouldn’t because we came down it less than an hour before but maybe that is an age thing. The last half mile is made to blast down with all your reserves to negotiate the final 100 yard slog up the cobbles and left turn into the courtyard and the finish.
The race was won by Jack Wood of Ilkley Harriers in 56.08. First lady in 53rd position Sarah Douglas of Sale Harriers in 1.07.42. Black and Whites out in force today with Tom Midgley in 24th in 1.03.52, Rogan Ashton 40th in 1.05.40. I was 125th in 1.13.13 (more than four minutes faster than last year!). Sara Elliott led the Otley AC ladies home in 1.22.57 (320th), with El Presidente Matt Podd in 1.25.02 (353rd). Andrew Rayner in 1.32.05 (504th), close grouping of the next three ladies Lisa Maughan 1.34.14 (544th), Laura Hind 1.34.21 (547th) Joanna Hobson 1.34.44 (553rd). Jane Butler 1.37.15 (602nd), Hannah Lupton 1.38.34 (621st) and Tom Hannah 1.38.47 (624th). 816 participants were sharing the pain and we got a great T shirt and enough chocolate bars to add four minutes onto next year’s time!