What a joy it was to be back running in the Harrogate summer league this week. It's been 3 years (at least) since M and I stepped out for this summer race series; a very sociable set of evening races comprising of 5-6 miles along road and trail followed by a summer supper. Each race is hosted by a participating Yorkshire club in the Harrogate district and includes a fine sandwich and cake spread to aid runners with post race refuelling after a long day at work. It was great to be back, these events were my introduction to road running and racing with Ilkley Harriers six years ago; check out my first ever result.
This first event of 2011 was hosted by Thirsk and Sowerby. Though a bit of a trek for some, it was well worth the trip up north. The mad dash from work via Leeds to collect M lacked the usual relaxed pre-race prep, as did the drive up the A1 through the downpour. It's moments like these I wonder what on earth I'm doing; dashing from work to race 6 miles in the pouring rain. There were a few sideways glances from colleagues when I answered polite questions about my evening plans. They think I'm slightly mental. In any case, as is the way with these things, I was really glad we made it. The rain freshened up the air and had eased off to a light drizzle once we got to the race start. The field was a fine, scattered rainbow of club vests, peppered with lots of old friends and running chums, some I've not seen in absolutely ages.
Our own club is not a participating member of the league so we both opted to join up with friends' clubs, second claim. M ran for Dragons, alongside good mate Tricky (a Dragons celebrity and featured on their site!). As you can see M's sporting his new Dragons vest proudly (as I shiver from the back of the car like a big wuss). This was my debut race for Otley AC, a fine local club full of lovely folk that I've got to know in recent years. It's the club I nearly joined as a new runner a few years ago, (though they've got women in the club nowadays thank goodness!).
The race itself was bit of a shock; 6 miles being a bit shorter than my recent adventures. The faster pace on the back of a return to some proper training this week all felt a bit too much for the legs. After a very cautious start I managed to keep working my way through the field and after a couple of miles the first lady was in sight. I edged to her side eventually and we ran a fine race together; working hard on each other's shoulders (especially me when Charlotte dropped me like a bag of spuds on the bobbly grass tracks - I was useless).
This has got to be the most exciting race I've run for years and I loved every minute! The final half mile came around so quickly not knowing the course and with a short push on to the finish I managed to rob the win with only a couple of seconds to spare. Rob G of Wetherby was also by our side in the final miles, pushing hard but no doubt still feeling his run at John Carr this week. Either that or his mid race chat tired him out, (how do you do that Rob?!). Thank you to Charlotte S for making me work hard and for being such a fine and gutsy competitor.
M had a great race, he was barely in my sights from early on, pressing on with his go-faster knee socks and new T7s. He worked well to take 15th position overall, closely followed by Tricky who ran amazingly after his fine run at London and not yet three weeks gone. Our respective clubs enjoyed fine performances given the trek for many members. Otley ladies finished second team overall, with us lady vets taking first position. Results here, pics here.