Race Date – Sunday 14th August 2022
Report by Brian Jenkins
Well (as has been quite common of late) it has been a long saga. The “Askern 10 Mile” was added to the Strider’s Road Race Competition at the start of the year. I signed-up to the weekday “Askern 10K” some time earlier in the year (confusing the two races). This was later cancelled and refunds were issued (an issue with the demands of Doncaster Council, the local authority, if the rumours are correct). For months the “Askern 10 Mile” attracted much attention (as befits a race in the Striders’ Road Race Competition), it was impossible to sign-up, and there was none of the usual information to indicate that it had sold-out, questions were asked (for which, answers, there were none). Then one day, that changed, a Strider (or some affiliate, I cannot remember which) gave the heads-up on the Striders’ Facebook page: Askern Running Club had down-sized the 10 mile race to a 10K, numbers were restricted (to 300 I believe) and running clubs (including SCS) which included the race in their club competitions, were given advance warning and offered the chance to enter, before the fact that registration was open was publicised more widely.
Having put my hand in my pocket (so-to-speak), I waited. The postman arrived with a race number and a shoe tag a couple of weeks before the day of the event, but the joining instructions were not very clear. The web site instructions suggested a pub car-park was to be the starting point, with the race start time of being sometime between 9am and 11am. The Friday before the race (on Sunday) an e-mail was sent out to all entrants saying that the designated car park was the field next to the aforementioned pub (“do not park in the pub car park” was the clear instruction, contrary to the original instructions) and the start was to be at 10 am.
Race day arrived. The drive-in was easy enough, the new car park (a farmer’s field) was signposted clearly and parking was easy enough. It was during an official Met Office “amber” heat warning, so rather warm, but not oppressively so. The green and gold contingent formed-up near what was to be the finish line, and we waited. The crowd then made its way to the car park exit, how that was achieved I don’t know, but a clear movement to the start line indicated that something was going on (which accorded with what our watches were telling us). We formed-up at the start line, and then the crowd started moving and gathering speed, the herd mentality kicked-in, there was certainly no other indication that the race had started. Despite the shoe tag that racers were provided with, there was no recording of racers having crossed the race start line.
With the start being on a narrow country lane the, the first half mile mostly involved avoiding the feet of the runner in front of you, and making the most of the gaps between the runners as they developed. In time overtaking became easier, with a run through rural Doncaster, but with fully-opened roads (which the runners were sharing with cars) the instructions were to keep left wherever possible. To be fair there wasn’t much traffic, and the drivers were considerate of the runners taking-up their road.
The course itself was a short lap followed by a larger one, down quiet open rural roads, with the odd (slight) incline, all very pleasant in the summer sun, with trees providing regular welcome shade. The second lap provided a water station, and a small “out and back” element with the return run being marked by a single road cone. Normally I am not too keen on these, but the insight into who was in front (beyond sight), and behind (after all who wants to look back and twist their ankle in a pothole whilst not paying attention to the road ahead) was a great motivational factor. Then, on to the finish (marked by timing mats), a well-earned bottle of water, and a race t-shirt.
Some of my comments may be taken as criticism, but I do not mean them to be considered in isolation. My perspective may be affected by previous experience of city-centre road races, where yes, runners have a slightly more cosseted time of it, however, the volunteers in Askern were certainly keen to ensure that everyone enjoyed the experience, and yes, I enjoyed it.
Oh, and I got a P.B.
The race was won by Thomas Shaw MS (Dronfield Running Club) in 31:48 and Sophie Wallis (Lincoln Wellington AC) in 34:46. A special mention goes to the second-placed runner: Rob Byers (Steel City Striders). 32 Striders ran. For full results see https://www.ukresults.net/2022/ask10k.html