Sunday 20th September and it’s the morning of the 11th STAC club race and the second Vale of York Half Marathon. A race which although very new has already gained a reputation for being fast and flat. The previous day I had repeatedly checked my numerous weather apps on my phone to find out what the weather had in store. Cool apparently!
The morning dawned quite chilly and Autumnal with very patchy fog. This looks promising I thought. Crisp, cool and perfect running weather! How wrong could I be?!
Malcolm and I do have a reputation for turning up at races very early as we do like to be prepared. On this occasion I think we were beaten to it. There were already plenty of cars at Sherburn Airfield, the site of the race. As usual Malcolm had to hunt down the toilets for the first of his many visits before the start and I was checking out where the post race sustenance was located. It wasn’t long before we bumped into fellow STACies and a gathering was formed for the ubiquitous club photos.
Being located on an airfield there were plenty of small planes around for us to gawp at. Before long it was time to make our way to the start which was delayed for 5 minutes for those of us who were a bit slow making our way across the field. We lined up and then we were off. It was only a few hundred metres before we had a switchback along the airfield and then it was off along country lanes. The weather had decided to heat up which might have been nice if I had been sat in the garden. However, running 13.1 miles in the sun is not pleasant as I discovered. There was little shade from the sun apart from a very nice respite from the heat as we ran along a tree shaded lane. I was running with Becca Hattrell and Richard Cooper who was pacing as I was hoping for a sub 2 hour. After all, this race was flat and has a reputation as a PB course.
We hadn’t even reached 5 miles when the leader ran past us in the opposite direction at the 10 mile mark. That guy was cooking on gas!
Being mainly a country route, support was sporadic but through villages and on corners there was plenty of cheering and encouragement from locals, volunteers and STAC supporters. Two elderly ladies were sat outside their garden and offered me a chair. I must have looked like I needed it as the morning was getting warmer!
Richard was doing an excellent job with pacing and encouragement. Alas at mile 10 I hit the wall big time. I saw him disappear into the distance as I made up my mind I just needed to finish. The mantra ‘only a parkrun to go’ repeated in my head made no difference. My body had simply had enough. Despite guzzling a few jelly babies I admitted defeat and walked/ plodded the last couple of miles. STAC ladies overtook looking fresh with swishy pony tails and offered much needed encouragement to keep going. Alas, even Emma’s jazzy running tights couldn’t cheer me to a sprint finish. By now so many runners were walking I didn’t feel so much of a failure and one very kind runner, who’s name I will probably never know, urged me on with words of positivity for the last 500 metres. My thoughts by now were mainly hoping there was no final lap of the field!
At last 2 hours and 5 minutes later I crossed for the finish and completed my third and slowest half marathon. Shaking like a leaf and almost passing out I endeavoured to do some stretching while trying to congratulate other STACies on their efforts. Very difficult when you can’t speak!
The all important goody bag contained a quality tech t shirt, medal, Mars bar and High 5 gel. Not bad for £20!
Having found everyone else we had some post race photos taken and most people were very happy at achieving a PB. Adele had been sick near the finish to much cheering. I could empathise as I wasn’t far off myself.
All in all the Vale of York was a great race, well organised, great value and perfect for a first half.
Some brave (or is that bonkers?) STACies were heading off to complete a further 9 miles in the Wineathlon the same afternoon. Namely Nicky & Phil Coop, Wanda McDonald and James May. Well done to them for ‘doing the double’. Personally, I was glad to get home and admire my shiny medal.
Well done everyone!