How to Run the Perfect Race

Dent1No wait! Don’t go.


I can see my mistake now with that title. It makes this look like one of those articles which is about to tell you that you are an inadequate runner because you haven’t been living on a steady diet of Yasso 800’s in training, your shoes cost less than 145 pounds and you don’t wake up each morning and pop a plethora of the most scientific supplements. This isn’t one of those articles. It’s much easier than that that to enter the perfect race….it’s just a case of finding it and I’ve done that for you already.


The perfect race doesn’t begin on a Sunday morning at 9am. Yes it’s expensive to close roads but it’s worth it and a race that can be over more than two hours before the nearest pub to the finish line opens is not a good race. In fact morning races in general can be a problem.  It’s alright recommending a big of bowl of porridge as your pre-race breakfast but if you’ve got to be up at 5am to allow it to pass through your body and avoid that swerve off road after a couple of miles then it makes mornings a bit of a hazard. No the perfect race starts at a reasonable time and if that’s the afternoon then so much the better. If it’s a Saturday then even better, that gives you a day of smug satisfaction and recovery before going into work or maybe it sets you up for the perfect Saturday night.


The perfect race doesn’t come with a t-shirt you don’t want. They are great souvenirs for your first race, your best race or to show that you can afford to go to Budapest just for a 10k but if you run as many races as me they just become really crap dusters. They add five pounds to your entry fee and when they can be as bad as the recent Great North Run ones then it’s really just an outrageous rip off.


The perfect race doesn’t cost more than twenty pound. In fact a pound a mile is about right. Okay, maybe that’s being a bit tight fisted but you know what I mean. Avoid anything with words ‘Great Run’ in front of it; instead look for the ones with adverts that look like someone gave their kid some extra pocket money to design. Corporations don’t have your best wishes at hearts, a small running club with a hardcore of willing volunteers probably does.


The perfect race isn’t run around an industrial estate, it avoids loops and circuits, it has a bit of scenery that you can look at because you’re not having to stare at the ground all the time to see what you are running on. It isn’t anywhere too familiar and it isn’t too flat or too hilly. It has a bit of everything.


The perfect race doesn’t finish miles from civilization as having sacrificed a lot to get fit, the only time you really and truly deserve a beer and some food is when you have run the perfect race. You want to savor that perfect feeling of having accomplished something in the company of others.


Well ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Dentdale Run. A 14.1 mile road race through the village of Dent located in the Yorkshire Dales near the border with Cumbria which this year took place on Saturday 14th March.


Dent is in a valley on the Yorks / Cumbria border and you run a figure of 8 route going out of the village, back in, out again and back in. Its on road but is a challenging route with lots of undulations and a couple of nasty hills in the last mile. Its run to raise funds for the local primary school and instead of a t-shirt or medal you get a cup of tea, a sandwich and a couple of cakes.


It finishes at the play park just past the swings and if you dont slow down quick enough as you pass the finish line then you will find yourself running into The George and Dragon Pub and Brewery – a treasure. Its a great pub, does very good food and produces six very good beers of their own. Stick to The Golden Fleece at 3.7% straight after the race but build up to the T’owd Tup at 6% if you’re feeling any pain later on. If its a bit busy there’s in there then try The Sun Inn all of 50 yards up the road. The timings just right go catch a bit of beer, 6 nations rugby and conversation with the runners who came this year up from Essex and down from Dumfries.


In 2014 we had a perfect spring (almost early summer) day for the race and I had very fond memories of a great run. This year was a lot chillier and I felt every one of the ups and downs of the course. It felt like the hardest race I’ve run in a long time and I was cursing as I passed the finish line. However by the time you’ve stuffed your face on cake its hard to stay grumpy. Its such a picturesque little spot and everyone is so happy to see you running that 10 minutes after finishing I was already reconsidering my thoughts about never doing that bloody race again. It’s a reminder that you run to accomplish something, see somewhere and revel in the good feeling you get from a race.



If you like the sound of this then consider The Edinburgh to North Berwick 20 Mile. Get an early train up, its a 10 minute ride to race HQ then just follow the water all the way to beach at North Berwick. A good pint at The Sportsmans Arms next to the station then back to Rose Street for a couple before the train home. A brilliant day out.


Phil Young