The reputably considerate Emma Longfellow decided to have a ‘Cheese, Wine and Twister’ night the evening before Norton 9.?!? No, she wasn’t racing…

I like to think I have willpower, but when it comes to 2 of those things (excluding twister), I weaken and no matter how much I try to convince myself – red wine = iron, cheese = protein and twister = a bit like yoga maybe….. I’m not expecting to be bright and breezy tomorrow, so to make life easier for myself, I’ve part written this report in advance as there are a few things that I can refer to …:

1).The Weather: The forecast at the moment advises ‘3 degrees, light wind and some sunny intervals’ … not bad really, considering we only had snow a few days ago. We can’t really complain, but being British of course we will…..

2) The Location: “Norton 9” sounds more like a motorbike race to me….So where is it……. Wiki tells me it’s a village and civil parish in the Borough of Doncaster and it was included in the Domesday Survey of 1086… During the medieval period the nearby Barnsdale Forest was associated with Robin Hood… yes, of course it was….

Today it serves as a commuter village for Doncaster and Pontefract. It has 2 shops, a post office and 2 pubs…..oh and a historic water pump! All boxes have been ticked.

Race HQ is at Norton Middle School, the Start is opposite a Working Men’s Club and the parking field is courtesy of Norton Strawberry Growers….. well it all sounds very quaint doesn’t it….

Actually, this type of Race venue / location tend to offer pre and post race tea & coffee, home-made cake and bacon or sausage baps. I feel quite positive, until I look at the route……

3) The Course: A 1 lap course that is “Rural and undulating”. “From Norton the race gets out into the North Yorks countryside winding itself through scenic quiet roads..” The first half sounds fairly flat and manageable but the last 4 miles includes 2 steep hills at 5 and 7.5 miles……

The Race itself is organised by Askern AC and Vodafone obviously lost their sponsorship to ‘Ultralift Mechanical Handling’.

4) Previous results: A look at last year’s results tells me 512 runners ran last year, fairly popular then…. It was won by an unaffiliated runner who completed it in 50 minutes and First Lady who also happens to be in my age group came in at 57:31… Blimey!

5) Travelling companions: I’m traveling down with the ‘A Team’….. Anna (driving), Anna S and Annie… they will be fresh and happy and excited about the race…. I have pre-warned them I’ll be hungover, so they’ll be prepared for me being a grouch!

I’ve established that true to form there will be a friendly eclectic mix of STAC’s running…. Judy Liu had already mentioned in conversation on Tues that she was competing, so I have the knowledge that the STAC ‘First Lady’ post has been bagged…. Ah well, think of the cake Soph…

It’s 7:30 on Sat am and my husband’s nagging me that it’s time I got ready for parkrun … So I’ll fill in the remaining details post-race (as it should be done…).


Anna M advised early on that she was spectating not racing and Paul McGreevy was now the designated driver (thanks Paul). Anna S brought along some ‘runners flapjack’ that contained chia seeds, dates, dark choc and oats…. good natural energy was the consensus. Note to self, must travel with her again….

We enjoyed the journey banter and couldn’t resist a car selfie! Turns out we’d all had a few scoops the night before, it was nice to have that empathy… and when we arrived and talked to fellow STAC’s others had hangovers, felt poorly, tired, unfit.. etc…. Always good to get the excuses in early ?.

The School / Race HQ, was easily identifiable by stalls outside selling past-season trainers, running gear and accessories which looked worthy of a stall at Dewsbury market ….. We congregated in a tiny Sports Hall and had a quick assessment of a hand-drawn map on a classroom whiteboard to familiarise ourselves with the route… One of the organisers talked us through the route and I complimented him on his drawing efforts if only to make him feel better….

There was a good atmos at the start of the Race, the STAC elite made their way to the front whilst the rest of us found our own comfort zones… The wind was a bit icy, so a few of us huddled at the side of a van for shelter…. It was fine once we got going and towards the end of the race the sun came out and some of those (incl me) that wore base layers and leggings regretted not being a bit more hardy.

I found the first half of the race quite pleasant once I got my breath back after going off too fast. I found myself tagging onto a Group of 5 ‘Kimberworth Striders’…. striding along flattish country roads passing the occasional farmhouse, old barn and bear-like dog…. It was all very manageable until faced with that hill at 5 miles which was stretched out in front of us and appeared to be never-ending…. Ah, if it was flat we’d be saying it was boring wouldn’t we..personally I quite enjoyed it, if only for the feeling of euphoria and relief when I reached the top, followed by a good mile of flat to stretch out – lovely…. until the next hill at 7 miles….

The stretch from 8-9 miles was manageable until reaching a sharp incline towards the finish…. why do organisers do that, I mean who would put a brutal little hill in so close to the finish, cough, cough…..

Throughout the Race I tried to keep Judy in slight but lost her at about 6 miles, I did however manage to keep David Mellor in my line of vision thanks to the long stretches of road and his florescent yellow socks circa 1984. Next time lets have 1 yellow and 1 orange Dave….

It was great to see STAC spectators including Tilly (who took some great pics of STACies) Mark E and the little Mc’s, Anna, Paul and the Hodgy family who were at 8.5 miles. Mark H yelled “fuelled by cheese and wine”…. at me as I ran past which made me wave my arms in he air like a lunatic… I’m really looking forward to that pic….

Also worth a mention are the Marshall’s who were plentiful… rather gruff sounding Donnie blokes – when they bellowed “keep left” you stepped into line straight away in fear that they’d either shout at you or chase after you with a hoe…

The set-up at the finish was typical village race style, on a field, lots of spectator support and plenty of water and orange juice…and a t-shirt that would have been so much better if it didn’t say “Ultra-lift Mechanical Handling” on the front…

I thoroughly enjoyed the Race and several STAC’s I spoke to did too, others were glad it was over and had another one ticked of the list. Ah, we all get different things out of Races… There were references to Danny Hare who stormed it.. it was also his Birthday, so double-celebration…

Back to the HQ we collected our belongings and had a bit of race reflection at the School Gates. Sadly there were no WI style provisions but whilst spectating Anna and Paul did manage to source breakfast baps. Young Katie Hodgy thought it was hilarious that Anna’s egg bap exploded all over her face and took great delight in telling us so.


The results are up. 526 runners. 29 STACs ran.

The amazing Dave Parker was the 1st male in his age group and secured 10th position, followed by Danny (1st STAC male) in 14th position and John in 15th, a miniscule 2 seconds between them…There was also only a measly 4 secs between Joe Butler and Ian Sheppard and less than 10 secs between Becca and Stacey – can’t beat a bit of healthy STAC competition!

Judy stormed in as 1st STAC lady and 7th lady overall – just as fantastic on the road as she is on the trail!

Michelle Smale had to be the happiest person at the end of the Race, she was beaming, you could tell she thoroughly enjoyed it and Phil Coop was also pleased to have retained his bright blue beanie for the entire race. It looked like he was cooking in it but he reassured us it was sweat resistant….nice!

and there were PRIZES….

Thank you Dave who stayed for the presentation and picked up the STAC prizes, what a pleasant surprise! Everyone, whether the won a prize or not did brilliantly and of course we all came away with 9 mile PB’s…..


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