Report from Howard:
The last race of the year and another I have been doing over the last 30 years or more. The route has changed a couple of times over that period and the current one is as easy as they can make it in the undulating countryside west of Ripon. Perfect weather for running today no wind, no rain and overcast. I found myself overdressed despite selecting a light T shirt, from my second outing in the Las Vegas half marathon from 10 years ago. The announcer suggested people might be trying out their new Xmas kit today and I rather sheepishly confessed to John Armitstead I was wearing leggings that were 32 years old. ‘They are beginning to look it’ he said which he could also have said 30 years ago. Despite their threadbare patches I still found myself feeling hot during the race. Today, like last year, there were far more women than men participating, one of whom suggested it was because it was ‘Jolly’, if it were ‘Tough’ something the positions might be reversed. Not convinced myself, if only because I had hoped to get revenge on Sara for beating me in the Chevin Chase but failing dismally today. I could still feel the CC in my legs which were fatigued and the right calf slightly stiff so I had to tread a bit carefully to not pull anything. The start goes out across a lumpy grass field and now turns right after about a third of a mile it then takes a left and pulls up an incline towards Studley Royal park. A hard left before you get there and the route kicks up relatively steeply and you pass the 4 mile marker just over the summit as this is a repeated section of the route. The tarmac gives way to compacted earth and descends sharply down to the stream at the bottom. At this point I have overtaken Andrew Webster, who was perilously close at the CC and I can see Sara about a minute in front. I have tucked in behind Brian Miller from Harrogate who had cheerfully said he would be pleased to be within 10 minutes behind at the finish. You know those days when you just feel flat? Well today was one of those for me and I was labouring to keep up with him. The path along the stream takes you across a number of narrow bridges and you head towards a wooden bridge across. You then leave the track and the route pulls up the grassy hill for quite a stretch past the 3 mile mark and then drops back to the Studley Park carriage drive for a short way back to the repeated section and towards 4 miles. I have been overtaken by Geoffrey Howard who is now a world champion at some distance and I was congratulated many times on his achievement (being Howard Jeffrey). Recently I have been able to stay ahead but today was not going to be possible. Down the steep hill to the stream and I am also now struggling to keep up with Brian going down the hill but you turn left at the bottom and cross a very narrow trestle bridge and come out at the foot of the hardest part of the course. A tough, steep, stony, slippery stretch up through the woods with a tight left at the top through a gate onto a field which is always very muddy and not what you want for tired legs. Once across the field we get to a long stretch of downhill tarmac through 5 miles and I can forget my woes and stretch out. I overtake Brian and another guy who has been with us from the start as well as others who were now beginning to flag. I was overtaken by a guy from Ripon Triathlon who has overtaken me at a similar point in a couple of races so despite not feeling great I am probably running up to near par. at the bottom the route goes back onto the field from which we started and another couple overtake me. The run in to the finish across the field is always deceptive as you think the finish is round the next blind bend but there are two of them to negotiate. I tuck in behind them for a while and brace myself for the sprint to the line. I am not the only one who steels themselves for the finish and the pace increases to a point where I start to have doubts. I am able to hang on and his pace drops a bit. My race strategy is always ‘attack’ and my only tactic is ‘when to attack’ today it was about 250 yards from the finish and I am surprised at the power of my surge which leaves the guy behind but also shoots me past the chap from Ripon Triathlon just before the line. Result. The race was won by Andrew Grant of Harrogate Harriers in 36.04 and first lady was Heather Tuffs in 42.07, in 36th place. I was 159th in 50.46. 944 people had entered and 794 finished but there were a few casualties from injury who had to drop out. 13 fellow black and whites finished and can be found at https://my.raceresult.com/141265/results?lang=en. I feel the T shirt is personalised today as the letters JHJ are prominent which is obviously Jolly Holly Jog but also James Howard Jeffrey and that would be me. Happy new year to all.