A few words on the STAC Winter Handicap written by David Mellor, for those of you that don’t know him, here he is mid race.
Most members seemed to arrive at the Barnbow club early to collect their handicap numbers.
Everyone was keen to run, but also to enjoy the social occasion. It was great to see so many
faces, some already friends, some unfamiliar. It’s important to try and talk to someone “new”
every training session or club get together. There are so many members now – so don’t be shy
say hi! I met my pairs partner for the first time so that was a great way of building new
friendships within the club.
The route will have been well known to Tuesday night regulars. The footpaths and bridleways
behind John Smeaton’s are well worn, but it’s not often that I’ve run the full length of bog lane
(wonder how it got that name). The course was well put together, not too demanding if you
wanted a plod, but allowed you to really push it along the straightaways of Barwick Road, and
Manston Lane. Most people had already done a “recce”. In real life or virtually, via the excellent
course notes and photos provided.
In the shadow of the tank factory, the start was marshalled to military precision. Off we set out of
the club, back up towards Cross Gates. Turning right up Sandleas Way past Longs of Leeds I
didn’t notice the hill, I’d gained on the runner in front but was conscious of going too fast too
early so it was a good way up Barwick Road before I caught up to any other runners. The wind
was pushing us up the hill, so again the gradient was barely noticeable.
On to Bog Lane and this was great fun. You could see plenty of runners ahead proudly wearing
their STAC vests and navigating the many puddles along the route. This was where I passed a
few runners and I was passed myself. Bog Lane was fairly flat until you came to “the travelator”
(see strava segment) a steep section which can feel like two steps forward one step back.
The downhill can be just as treacherous but most runners navigated the stones, tree roots and
mud with great skill. Back up then towards Manston Lane was a tough section. A real leveller
where all the athletes seemed to really dig in to get up the slope. Well done, nearly there.
I had planned to really open up on the last homeward stretch, but to be honest I was done! I
hung on as my pairs partner passed me and I captured a few more. No sprint finish, too tired…
Great support at the end. You could see the marshals had a job on their hands timing and taking
numbers as runners poured over the line thick and fast. Fantastic turnout and the effort put in by
all the runners reflected the hard work and planning done by the volunteer team of
organisers and marshals.
What an amazing club event!
(David finished in 24th place out of 69 runners beating his handicap by 2 minutes)