I've lived in Ilkley (or its nether regions) for most of my life, been a Harrier for many years, and I'm ashamed to say never reached the dizzy heights of Beamsley Beacon. In fact it's safe to say that I've avoided with a vengeance any of the many Tuesday night training runs that have involved the BB words. The fact that it's the highest point of anywhere in the world should have been enough to make me rest at home with a cool beer and the Euro semi-finals for able companionship.
But no, I turned up at the Swan on a glorious summer's evening for a 3-mile jaunt (although I always suspected that this was an underestimate). In the queue to sign my obituary a very nice man from Idle said that it was at least 5, a good 5 at that, but runnable. Ha! I doubted his credentials as a predictor of runability, but given he was sporting a GPS my heart sank at his potential for distance guestimation. Still, too late now, and anyway, Harriers needed me, it was a mob match.
We sauntered down to the start, figuring that if it was a 5-miler there was no need for a warm-up. Millions of Harriers were there - I wasn't needed at all, I was indeed surplus to requirements, I'd been conned! The temptation to turn tail and wait, safely cocooned in the tap-room of the Swan, was almost too much to bear. The only thing that spurred me to carry on was the thought that this could be not only a course pb, but an age-group pb, and a random distance pb having never run a 5.55mile race before!
We started, and then ran uphill for an eternity, through long grass (the benefit of being at the back is that at least all the fast boys have trampled a path for you!), along the woods, to the road - a quick glance up was demoralising, not only was the Beacon only visible once I turned on my binocular super power, but some people were almost at the summit already - how do they do that! I decided on a run-walk strategy, knowing that my nemesis was not far behind. Too far away from the summit the nemesis over-took me, but my run-walk strategy seemed to be ok, as we huffed and puffed to the top. I had promised myself that this would be a point of elation, the culmination of 40 years of Wharfedale life, I would savour the moment, take in the view that had eluded me for so long. No, the sun was at that annoying point that if you looked up you not only risked the potential to be blinded (where's that pin-hole eclipse viewer Valerie Singleton showed you how to make when you need it), or crash painfully to the ground on the rocky terrain that fell away tantalisingly in front.
There was only one thing for it - hell for leather - thankfully tippy toes Tapper was having an easy week so the way was clear. All was going well until we hit the gully. A narrow path, loaded with boulders, nettles that were head high when you're my size, and a queue. Above us the better route choice were pounding through the open field, un-restricted save for the odd sheep. We emerged from Narnia several places down but well rested and started and finished the run in, always rubbish to finish on the road, especially if in fell shoes!
The prize giving was, as always, awesome, a hugely jolly affair. Someone won in a ridiculously fast time, but everybody won. We all survived, we all had a laugh, but most importantly I won a prize as a vet 40, pressure's off for the next 5 years - Bob I could kiss you!