Report from Howard
Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the web-er, I return with tales of mud and derring do. I entered the Fountains 10k as soon as it opened as I have been doing it off and on since its inception and because it was part of the much missed Black Sheep series. Lucky I did, as it filled up very quickly for some reason this year as it has never before been a sell-out, to my knowledge. Maybe that is why I was also the only Otley representative out today. I decided to race in as light a kit as possible and dispense with the calf guards to let the legs run free. An hour before the start the sky was grey and wet but was just beginning to break up and by the 11.00 o’clock start the sun was up and it was quite warm, with no wind to speak of. The 400 limit turned out to be 326 on the start line and after a solid couple of weeks of training I felt confident enough to start very near the front. I was not aware of any known age group rivals on the day so despite being 2 to 3 minutes of the required 10K pace in recent races I was optimistic if I ran to current form it could be a good day at the office. I had warmed up effectively and at the gun set of at a sustainable pace out of the village of Grantley and up a relatively steep hill turning to a gradual incline towards the top moor where mud and rough terrain awaited. I had selected my new off road ‘Mud-claws’ on the grounds that they are OK on the road which is 75% of the course, whereas road shoes are useless in the mud. I overhauled a few over-enthusiastic starters up the hill and got to 1K in 4.30 and I was pleased because I was hopeful of a 45.00 finish and it felt comfortable. I put in a spurt to get a few more places before the route leaves the road and onto a rutted albeit dry track to the moor, where passing can be difficult. The rutted track started to get wet and muddy after a few hundred yards and I made up three places in short order as two runners lost shoes to the suck-fest underfoot and one poor lady twisted her ankle for the second time and dropped out. The next couple of kilometres are fairly tough in that there are plenty of deep ruts, mud, rocks, puddles, potholes and tufts to negotiate. Not good but not as bad as in many previous years. You pick the best route you can across the moor and I took a leaf out of Jacque’s horse technique. When he follows me on a training run he always puts his hoof where my feet have trod even when I zig zag to shake him and I presume this to be ‘if the ground is good enough for him, it’s good enough for me’ thinking. So I followed in the steps of the people in front and was able to pass a couple more when the opportunity arose. I think by the time I got across the moor at 4K I was in my final finish position and had a strong run to the finish along the very undulating tarmac. Not a pb course so I was pleased to cross the line in 44.40 in 29th place and first o/60. The prizes were extremely generous in that along with a goody back of nice Sub T shirt and a random selection of goodies, including a nice pork pie for everyone, I got a box of six bottles of wine. One for you Hannah, as promised, (I did count my chickens) which I can give you at the next target race Vale of York 10 or Guiseley Gallop maybe? Get this, also a voucher for Sub gear (which is good stuff) wait for it… £100! The race was won by Ben Pease of Ripon Runners in 34.36, first lady Sharon Barlow of Darlington harriers AC, in 8th place in 40.36.