Report from Hannah:
On a hot and sunny Sunday morning on 9th July whilst everyone else headed to Leeds 10k Sara Richard, Chris Brunold and myself set off for the Burn Valley Half in Masham. This race has had a break of four years and is now being organised by Ripon Runners and I must confess to have never heard of it till I saw a flyer for it somewhere. For some reason I thought that doing this race the weekend of my birthday with friends and followed by a beer would be a great idea to celebrate. So I talked Sara, Ann, and Joanna into joining me and then Tom Hannah filled me in on how tough the course was, oh dear! That explained why a lot of people were laughing at me and saying no way….
Unfortunately, Ann and Joanna had to pull out due to injuries and in the meantime I’d talked Chris into joining us for a trip out to Masham with the promise of a beer. By the time the race came around I’d been told by countless people it was a tough, hilly course and to say I wasn’t up for it was an understatement. I’m just not feeling the love for running at the minute, especially road races that consist of hills and no stiles or gates to get a rest at. Plus I had a tight calf and dodgy ankle, when haven’t I got a dodgy ankle? We arrived at the car park and pulled up alongside ex Otley AC member Mark Berry and bumped into our Wetherby friend Richard Bell, it was good to see we weren’t the only nutters doing it. We also bumped into Ian Fisher who I believe had been asked to race as he is the current record holder, he told Sara he wasn’t very well and was full of cold but was hoping he’d be able to run ok, it looks like he didn’t finish as he wasn’t in the results.
The race starts in a narrow side street just off the market square and heads out of Masham through the grounds of Swinton Castle, up to Leeds Pals war memorial and before turning round and heading back to Masham via Healey and Fearby. All run on back roads and it’s very picturesque, which is a good job because I don’t think I’ve mentioned how hilly it is. It’s up down, up down and then up and up to the war memorial, then up and down all the way back too. As expected Sara and I lost Chris not long into the race, Sara and I were doing our own thing but were a similar pace for the first mile or so, before we hit the first incline where my tight calf really bothered me. It was that that made me pause to decide if I was going to carry on, well that and a bloke that I couldn’t get rid of who was doing my head in, he was coughing and spluttering all the time clearing phlegm from his chest (it was grim and making me feel sick). I gave my ankle a wiggle and decided to stop being a wuss and carry on for a bit to see how my calf got on if I took it really steady on the hills, it was fine the rest of the time. I managed to catch Sara up again for a bit and we hit a stretch of road that we’d covered during the ultra last year, we were laughing nervously about the hill we were about to hit before we turned off the road with a sigh of relief, before starting up a different hill.
It was blazing hot however Ripon Runners had water stations perfectly placed every two miles, a lady in one of the villages had her hose pipe out for us and the support from marshals and locals all the way round was great. Sara lost me at 6 miles after the long climb to the war memorial, my calf was not happy and I backed right off. At this point I got talking to a lovely lady who was also starting to fade, we’d been passing each other since the start and ended up encouraging each other to the end, yes we were having a good chin wag at times but she definitely helped me keep my pace up too. I was very surprised to catch Sara again at about 10 miles and fully expected her to some past me again before the end but the warm weather was really getting to her, I only had chance to catch my breath before I turned round to see her finishing though so we were very close in the end.
I can’t recommend this race enough, well organised, great support, yes it’s hilly but it’s really not that bad and the route is just so pretty, plus it’s £16 and you get a technical t-shirt, a banana, a packet of Yorkshire Tea and a bottle of beer (thank god Chris got her beer in the end!). On reflection I enjoyed myself and it has to be the best I’ve felt in a long time plus I got the time I had hoped for on such a hilly course. It’s far better than a boring flat run in some city centre, so who’s up for it next year?
Apparently Howard was there but we never saw him, surprising as it was only a small field of runners with 222 finishers. Chip times for Otley AC’ers were as follows; Howard Jeffrey 1:48:12 and 2nd M60, Chris Brunold 2:04:35, Hannah Lupton 2:14:54 and Sara Richard 2:15:41.