Race Date 21.04.19, Easter Sunday. Report by Stuart Jones.
If you were doomed to only ever running the same three races ever again, which would they be?
I would have to go for Cross Country Nationals, Dam Flask Relays, and this one – the Helmsley 10k.
It’s part road, mostly trail, always run on Easter Sunday. You get an Easter Egg (Rolo this year) and a mug (see photo 1) if you finish. 358 runners finished this year, in a spread of times from 34:42 for Tom Charlton of Tyne Bridge Harriers to 1:25:33 for the unattached Kerry Smith.
Helmsley is a typical North York Moors town, with castle (photo 2), grand house and park, long distance footpath (the Cleveland Way), great cafes and pubs and a decent chip shop. It has always been a stopping point for motorcycles.
The race route starts out on the road and is slightly downhill to begin, before a left turn and a 2.5 mile uphill section. That first road has speed bumps and I was only saved today from a dramatic face plant by falling against another runner’s backside. Not enough looking down it seems!
The incline / hill soon sorts out the runners, and walking begins for some right there, half a kilometre in. It’s not Holymoorside, and certainly isn’t one of the UK’s three steepest streets (see the Shaffield Star (sic)), but it still causes the pace to drop.
From there to the half way point, and only water table, it’s hamlets and country cottages and neatly furrowed fields. At this point today I had a female Penistone runner in sight in the semi-distance and she proved to be my final overtaking target in the finishing straight (photo 3).
A quick right turn and we go off-road and into woodland, forestry and farmland. A short bit of concrete (to accommodate the forestry vehicles) soon gives way to what this year was dry, stony, trail. Last year this race was wet and cold and muddy (and hard and challenging and rewarding). Pretty much all, gradually, downhill from here, with one steep drop off in the greenest sward imaginable, and so I recorded a 6:40 mile and a 4:18 kilometre (fast for me).
Having run the race since 2011 I knew that there were three bits of unkind uphill at the end, so I tried to save a bit. One stupid look at my watch dispelled that idea as soon as I saw a pb was on! Over the 4km downhill I got my average speed up/down (which one is it?) to 7:20 minutes per mile – this was going well.
Back onto the road, round past the Youth Hostel, up Carlton Lane and onto possibly the best-named road in Yorkshire – Baxton’s Sprunt. Here you get to wave at the outdoor service at the Parish Church if you’ve been fast enough.
A turn onto the sports field (Duncombe Hall Cricket Club plays here) and there is 100m to go. Here I, slightly unchivalrously, overtook our Penistone runner and claimed 57th place in a new course pb of 46:02, two minutes faster and 44 places higher than eight years previously.
It is a real race – plenty of challenge but runnable all the way. The locals are very friendly. Cake and tea after is in big portions and cheap. The facilities are great, considering (I got a shower afterwards). The mug goes to work and colleagues use them continually. The Easter Egg has been eaten already. The scenery is terrific. And you can get a wooden sword in the castle shop. What more would you want from a day out?
First finisher: Tom Charlton (Tyne Bridge Harriers) 34:42
First Female: Emma Macalister-Hall (Unattached) 40:29
First Steel City Strider: Stuart Jones 46:02
Full results here