Having spent the night in Sheffield, rather than travelling down on the day from Otley, I arrived feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
The weather forecast had been increasingly unpleasant as the week had gone on, but on arrival at the University in Swinton, we were all thinking that maybe they had been wrong... They hadn't.
We enetered the sports hall and picked up our numbers, T-shirts and badges and made a few last minute tweaks to our kit. There was the usual long line for the toilets from nervous runners, so Paul decided to leave things to the last minute, and we ended up setting off 4 minutes after everyone else.
As Steve had left with the pack, Paul decided to try and catch him up, so I tagged along, glancing at my GPS and noticing a 7:19 min/mile pace. Concerned, that this was Paul's race pace, I was truly delighted to settle into a much more realistic pace once we caught up with Steve and the main pack of runners.
In darkness, we followed the easily navigable trails (this was soon to change) in really good weather (as was this!) Steve was navigating from the beginning so I just concentrated on my running and enjoyed the converssation. Steve did a great job navigating some increasingly tricky stretches and only got lost once when we followed some barrier tape which marked a lot of the route. It turned out that this tape was from last year's race!
Walkers in the event had set off at 6a.m and it was amazing how far some of them had got round the course. It was quite motivatiing having them to 'aim for' along the way.
Towards 20m, Steve was keen to slow the pace down a bit, but I was feeling so strong at this point that I pushed ahead. Paul caught me up at about 22m after Steve had settled into a pace with another runner. From this point it was my turn to navigate and I managed to take a wrong turn almost immediately causing us to run uphill for a bit before realising and returning back down hill. I wasn't overly popular!! After this point, I conferred with Paul about the route!
From about 24 miles, the weather worsened and by the halfway checkpoint, I was freezing. My gloves were wet and I felt under-dressed. It was also difficult to leave the warmth and comfort of the check room. We did manage to tear ourselves away and apart from the cold, I felt pretty good. At half-way, I was lying in 79th place.
From this point the weather and terrain made the going very difficult. Fields were really boggy and temperatures dipped down to 3C, which in the wind and rain felt like worse.
We plodded on and met up with a runner towards the end who had recced the final section. She kindly let us run with her for most of the way as my tolerance for reading the map had all but dissappeared!
We managed a bit of a sprint up the car-park at the end and finished joint 54th in 9h47m,58s. I was pleased with the time and position, but I was really just pleased to have finished in such poor weather conditions. I am now going to siginifiacntly add to my kit for the Thames Path Ultra in January!!
Overall, it was a good race. There are some really nice sections (Roche Abbey) and some not so nice urban sections. The volunteers were friendly and there was excellent food and drink station all the way round.
Here is a map of the route:
Here is a profile of the course. Not that hilly really (check the scale!). The GPS sems to have had a wobbler at 37m!