Report from Howard:
This is a very tough, hilly almost cross country 10k. Despite the not very Christmassy sounding name the elves, Santas and reindeer were out in force. Clear blue sky and pleasantly mild, windless conditions prevailed so we were lucky. Chatted with Andy and Sara before the start which was from the South Leeds Stadium track. The microphone and speakers translated the starting official’s announcements into Klingon! He would have been better asking for quiet, then speaking up. Probably the usual pointing out the obvious wet, mud slippery grass, leaves etc….like hey it’s December, or maybe a good recipe for mince pies, who knows?
I wanted a solid steady workout today as part of my build up back to full run training mode (bike and swim already there) and I am currently about half way and I am just about managing the dodgy knee. This by relentlessly applying every conceivable remedy I have come across over the years which fingers crossed are working. The race was counted down three two one… er stop! Which is unusual, I don’t think they had switched the timer on (chip timing). Then 54321 and we were away. I had stationed myself about a third of the way back in the field of 375 runners on the outside of the track for a clear run out of the stadium. There was plenty of space on the track fairly quickly so I got up to pace within the first 200 yards or so. Andy pulled ahead before we left the stadium but I knew the course profile well and thought the hills would be to my advantage. Outside the stadium and you are on wet muddy grass for a couple of hundred yards then up what they had called ‘Scrooge hill’ a short sharp incline. There were people walking up it from the bottom so it was a surprise to find them so close to the front of the race. From the top of that you cross a road and then wind up a damp grass/mud slope at the side of a field and once at the top head back down the other side. The route then grinds up a long slow drag through the woods to the top of another hill. I steadily made ground on Andy tucked in behind him to the top. He kept with me to about 4.5K then the descents which favour me began to take effect and I slowly pulled away a few yards. The route was up and down and this way and that for the next 3K till we got to the 6K marker! Or at least that is what it felt like to me. There was more of the same and by 8K I was consoling myself that everyone must be feeling the same pain. I kept checking on Andy as I know he doesn’t give up easily and I kicked down a couple of the descents to maximise the advantage which was about 45 seconds at the end which was very welcome.
The race was won by James Mace of Rothwell Harriers in 40.43. First lady was Susan Lewis of Roundhay Runners, 17th in 44.04. I was 61st in 50.32, Andy Webster 66th in 51.17 and Sara Elliott 69th in 51.39.
For the record this race was the last I will do in this year’s Leeds race series and I have finished 1st in my age category. To be fair there was far less competition than when I came second in the Leeds Grand Prix 30 years ago in 1988 but I am pleased to be still able to mix it and it shows that if you persevere for long enough the rewards will come which if the same as last year will be a trophy handed out at the Guiseley Gallop. Should nicely bookend the one from 1988 (image attached).