Sunday, April 21, 2013

Over The Odda - Over and Out

Yesterday was the race day, the initial running of the Over The Odda 10k set around lovely Hawksworth village with a quick detour out to bits of Menston and Guiseley.

Firstly the good news, I did finish the run and didn't quite come last.  There isn't really any bad news but the actual run was a lot harder than I was expecting.

At the start, oh yes, it's all smiles now.
Before the race began little packs of people from the 170 strong field were gathering to display their colours. Various running clubs were represented, all resplendent in their team colours.  Some people were actually running a few laps of the school field in order to warm up for the event. Madness! Why would you want to run further.  I was warming up more slowly with a cup of weak coffee and some last minute application of Vaseline to the nipples.

The race began downhill, the elite runners flying away from the start.  Two fields later we were all huddled together queuing to get over the first of many stiles we would encounter, and again two fields later on. Well this isn't so bad, you run a few hundred yards, then get to stand around having a breather.

The field of runners was now nicely strung out in single file as we descended into Birks Wood where the race organisers had kindly imported all the mud in Yorkshire for us to run through.  Ankle deep, trainer removing goo was the order of the day as we puffed and panted through the woods,  I say puffed and panted, except for the two ladies ahead of me who managed to run the whole 10k while keeping up a constant chatter about the likelihood of their respective offspring gaining decent exam grades this summer, remarkable.  I find that when running I can either run and breath, or I can talk and stand still, but never the twain shall meet.

After some bogs where shorter runners vanished up to their ears we emerged and ran back up the hill to the school.  The sun was out, this was easily the warmest day I have run on so far this year.  Although I am running in the picture, I was already walking the steep bits.
Just short of 2 miles, back up to the school.

Across from the school we went up a snicket and then down the Odda.  This is where I had a fight with a bush last week coming up.  Going down was scary.  A precipitous slope specially greased for the occasion.  Along with many other runners in the non-elite section I employed a combination of feet, elbows, knees and buttocks to get to the bottom of the Odda.

Beyong that the running was easier for a while.  We crossed some fields and did a loop inside High Royds woods and I felt that in the semi-shade of the trees I was running better than I had so far.  Then suddenly, and most unexpectedly, I was upside-down in a ditch. I'm a big lad, and my sudden loss of footing and plunge down the bank both befuddled and winded me for a moment.  Apart from a new set of scratches on my shoulder to match the ones on my shins I didn't seem to have broken any vital bits, so I knocked off the mud and twigs and stumbled on.

Coming in to Hawksworth (photo J Redding)
Coming down the Odda had been really hard, but the steady grind up Thorpe Lane was grim going.  I did quite a bit of walking between here and the finish.

A nice shade of beetroot (photo J Redding)

As I plodded down through the woods back to Hawksworth village I saw the most welcome sight of good friend John and his daughter Natalie.  I've often heard marathon runners saying how the support of the crowds lifts them, and it is true, having all the marshals applaud as you struggled past and seeing friends who taken part of their day to come and support your efforts does inspire you and keep you going.

A lap of the school field then and it was all over.  I had completed the first serious race I have taken part in since doing the Chevin race in about 1986.  I was knackered, sweaty, sore and muddy, but I'm pleased that I managed it.

I have run 10k+ in training, but running in the race seemed much harder, I think this may be that subconsciously you try to match your speed to the people around you rather than just plodding along at your own pace.  Normally when I run I listen to some music, but I opted not to do this for the race, I think this was a mistake and if I race again I'll treat it as more like a normal training run.

I would like to thank Emma and her amazing team of volunteers for putting the event together.  All the event team were marvellous, kind and helpful and while the elite guys must have whistled through the checkpoints the marshals kept on applauding us and cheering us on, it really made a difference.

Regarding the start and the backlog at the first stiles, I wonder if there would be some way in future Odda's to stagger the start ? Perhaps setting off the elite club runners first and then having a 'fat old lads' section starting later ?  I also found descending the Odda just a little too difficult.  I have to balance these observations against the fact that I'm a plump, slow, middle-aged bloke, the experience that the proper runners had was probably quite different.

 A huge thankyou to all my sponsors, we raised about £200 for Sightsavers, I'll do another post about this.

Would I race again then ?  Yes.  Although next time I'd like a flatter route.  Would I run the Odda again ? I'll tell you this time next year.
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1 comment:

  1. Well done. I know what ending up in a ditch feels like but not managing to run 10k. I noticed you were running with "Nelson" on your chest. A fine cricket related tribute for you I felt.

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