Report from Howard:
here was a time the dates of Leeds half marathon and Ripon 10 did not clash and you were able to do both testing races. I usually stick with the race that has kept its usual date and miss the one that changed because a training/racing plan is sacrosanct right? Well this year I was not prepared to fork out the required £37.40 to enter the biggest (and therefor the best?) half marathon in Yorkshire. They did offer price reductions but too late for me I had entered Ripon 10. On a good day, any races round the Ripon/ Fountains area are going to be in splendid scenery so if you’re not ‘racing hard’ they are a pleasure to do. The weather belied the forecast of cool with rain and it turned out to be sunny, cool and calm, so perfect conditions really. You may be aware that I spend most of the available training time swimming and biking for duathlons and triathlons and the next important event for me is the first triathlon, with open water swim, of the season is next Saturday. It is a qualifier for the European championships in Glasgow this August so being close, everyone wants to go, so it will be a really tough ask next Saturday. That race of course influences what I do prior to and at Ripon so the day before was my first open water swim, which was great followed by a long bike ride, all preceded by a steady run. Ripon was going to be a steady, solid run to consolidate the stamina. was able to chat briefly to Mark who had his usual great performance later and briefly with Hannah, Sara and Ian. I normally am pretty focussed warming up so don’t get the opportunity to say more than a brief hello, if that, but because the sun was warming I had run a bit and was soaking up rays, lizard style, and they made a point of coming over to chat, which was nice.
Get to the race I hear you say so here we go. Target time for this course was around 1.17/18 given yesterday’s efforts and what I expected to be wet underfoot conditions. Turned out to actually be quite dry compared to some years so road shoes would have been OK but I had opted for trail shoes which do lack a bit of zip on the tarmac sections. The start is across bumpy grass and is quite congested so unless you are right at the front a sensible start is forced upon you. Once off the fields a gentle incline up a made road lets you get going before turning onto a rutted stony track. This leads up to open grass fields and mile two. A nice downhill stretch to join another rutted stony path through the woods. A fellow Harrogate age grouper took a nasty tumble on the track but managed to finish albeit with a bruised hip. The next couple of miles are a lovely windy stretch along the valley bottom and through the shady woods. One or too inclines but nothing too drastic until mile 4. A long straight road up through Studley towards the church at Fountains and for me quite a steep hill, in the open sun reminded me what I had forgotten that this is quite a tough race. A refreshing drink station at the top of the hill (there were plenty throughout the route) and a bit of a surprise to me the route had changed from what I remember from a nice decent on tarmac (my favourite) to a bit of a trudge across a rutted farm track for a mile or so. Then back onto the old route again and some great long descents to open up the legs again, interspersed with some testing uphill bits. I was feeling reasonably strong so enjoyed the descents and even pulled away from a couple of people on the last uphill section. That gives way to the first tarmac section you came out on and back to the fields. There seemed to be more fields to go back through than you came out on and the finish banner was a welcome sight. I crossed the line in 1.20 and by all accounts the actual 10 mile mark was somewhere in the fields before the finish so I was pleased enough with the result. Tapering this week to go for broke next weekend.
The race was won by Andrew Grant, Leeds City in 58.30, first lady Helen Cross 1.03.27 York Tri club. Mark Hall was 9th in 1.04.08. I was 103rd in 1.20.17, Ian Broadbent was 214th in 1.32.34. Hannah Lupton 327th in 1.42.54 and Sara Richard 328th in 1.43.35 (all chip times) and there were 455 finishers.