When this race was announced a few months ago I was attracted to it straight away. A joint celebration between Saltwell and Heaton Harriers of their 125 years of existence on some of the most scenic tracks and trails in the area – what isn’t to like. And free to boot!
I’ve had a few I injuries since I ran the York marathon so I wasn’t in the shape I would have like to have been going into the race, but I’d had a half decent week beforehand with no niggles so I feel like I’m on the way back now.
The course had been shortened due to the amount of rain we had in the preceding days which meant the section over the pit heap had been taken out which was disappointing but understandable. This meant the route was 4 miles instead of the original 5.
Arriving at the Barking dog for registration i caught up with a contingent of hoops who had made the journey.
As we lineup in the start line it became apparent that the race wasn’t going to have a big field (42 in fact) which on the positive side meant that we were all able to fit into a pre race photo – not something you could say for many races.
My thoughts inevitably turned to what position I might be able to achieve in the race. Looking around at the other runners there were a number who looked as if they would be able to contest the win, although its impossible to tell until the race starts.
As the gun went off there was a group of 3 heaton runners who immediately went to the front and I tucked in just behind them. The first mile went by and although the pace was fast I felt like it was within me and I was able to keep up with the group. Because of the change of route I had decided to wear racing flats rather than trail shoes, however I regretted this at a number of points in the race when the route was very muddy and frequently involver running through large patches of standing water.
In this part of the race I felt like I could have pushed on harder and taken the lead but was apprehensive of doing so for a number of reasons. I’ve done very little running in the past 4 weeks and although I felt strong at this point in the race I didn’t know if I would be able to sustain it for the remainder. Also I didn’t know any of the group I was running with so didn’t know if they were on the edge or running within themselves.
So we were all together up until just after 2 miles and then things started to break up. One heaton runner dropped off the back (I assume he must have picked up an injury as i passed him walking back to the start later in the race) .
And then another runner started to fall back and there was just 2 of us running together. At this point I decided to make my move and I went past him to take the lead.
It didn’t last for long though as he obviously had reserves in the tank and retook the lead just before we reached the final section of the course with just over a mike to go.
With any race, no matter what distance the first 2 thirds are usually spent holding back, pacing yourself and thinking about the tactics you are going to follow. Then the last third is normally about letting go – running g as fast as your body will allow and pushing through the pain barrier.
This was now this point in the race – the heaton runner (Stephen Schubeler ) was now starting to build up a lead – only a few seconds and I thought if I could maintain this gap the I would have a chance in a sprint finish.
The last section of the course was an out and back so I was able to see runners coming the opposite was and it was nice to hear the shouts of encouragement ( sorry I didn’t shout back but I was struggling to breathe never mind talk by this point ).
I heard a shout of “go on Saltwell he’s flagging” which should have pushed me on but the problem was that I was flagging too, badly.
The gap was getting bigger and I was on my limit, it was at this point I conceded I wasn’t going to win the race. I was physically incapable of running any faster than I currently was.
And so I crossed the line in 2nd place, 11 seconds behind Stephen. Les Smith from heaton came in 3rd and Graeme put in a great sprint finish to take 4th place by a whisker.
All an all a great day out and if heaton put the race on again next year I will definately be back.
I’m sure I’ll not the the only one..