Lined up at the start chatting to the usual suspect, keith, sue, nigel etc I noticed there were a lot of the thinner ilkley harriers out, obviously it was going to be a fast race. I always have a bit of dread in my stomach at this one, do I not like hills ! The horn sounded and we were off. As I plodded up the cobbled road as usual there was a constant stream of runners coming past me. We turned left onto the gravel road and Sue and Keith breezed past me with a cheery ‘hi pete’ We then turned sharp right onto the road, I was trying to keep tucked in behind keith and sue for another 100 metres or so and then we turned left onto the steep road up to the chevin. I shortened my stride to try and keep running and to my surprise I eased past them, at least until we got to the top of the road and then onto the trail, back they came and I was trying to hang on again. Past the cottages and then the dreaded steps ! I was directly behind keith and hands on knees kept trudging up and up, eyes on the ground wondering if these steps were ever going to finish. Finally we got to the end of them, I was still just behind Keith at least until he sped off up the gravel path. Within a few hundred metres he was up with Sue and a good 40-50 metres ahead of me but rather surprisingly no one had overtaken me since before the steps and in fact I was making up a little ground on the other runners in sight. We then turned left off the gravel path and it was another bit of hands on knees as we pushed up onto the top of the Chevin. As we ran along the undulating path I managed to get past the young lass in front of me and then a bit further on past another young runner. It was then a bit more of hands on knees up to the very top of the Chevin, I could hear the young lad I’d just overtaken right on my heels. I put on a bit of an effort to keep him at bay and in the distance I could see first Keith and then Sue turn to start their descent.
As I turned down I started to push a bit, I love down hills and within seconds had got past the first of the blokes in front of me. It then the long twisting descent on the sometimes wet rocky track, letting myself go, overtaking another runner and then after a bit of a tussle a third one just before we got to the cottages again and I was on the heels of Sue. Past the cottages and onto the last bit of twisting trail and I got past Sue, my cheery ‘Hi Sue’ earning the lightning riposte ‘Yer Bugger’ . Onto the steep road and I let myself go, arms wind milling madly , my feet were getting sore from slapping down so hard, but I got past 2 more runners. Then it was right along the road before turning back on yourself along the gravel road. I was hurting by now and desperately trying to keep up the pace, this is where previously I’ve been overtaken by everyone I passed down hill ! I could hear the chasing pack behind me and as we turned onto the cobbled road to the finish could see keith in the distance sprinting for the line. I dug in and actually managed to get past the young lass in front of me who gasped out a ‘well run’ as I went past. Lungs hurting I kept wanting to ease off but could hear the young lass coming back at me and kept pushing getting to within a few feet of another runner as I crossed the line.
Wow that was a hard finish as I got my breath back and grabbed my water and started to chat to the rest of the Ilkley crew I looked at my watch, 26.39 a course PB by almost 20 seconds, definitely a nice surprise as I haven’t really done any hill work or speed work for a while but it seems like my return from a nagging heel injury is virtually complete. It was great chatting to the gang and then as i wandered back to my car I realised just how good I felt, and how lucky we all are to be able to get out and run in great surroundings with great people and how even the most dreaded races can be actually very enjoyable...once you’d finished them of course !!
Hope that’s not too much waffling it’s just that I felt so good after dreading the race so much at the start I wanted to share a bit of the euphoria of running and try and encourage people to get out and race more, you’ll be surprised just how good it feels !!
Results on www.skyrac.org.uk.