Report By: Brian Jenkins
Race Date: 4th September 2022
Well, a long-distance race a few weeks before marathons at Chester, York and Amsterdam is just what is called for by marathon runners in-training. My own preparations for the Yorkshire Marathon have been lacking in decent long runs, so when Hillsborough and Rivelin Running Club announced a new race, starting just down the road at Rother Valley Country Park, the appropriate boxes were ticked. I signed-up.
Whilst Rother Valley’s “Sheffield” credentials are questionable (it is within the town boundaries of Rotherham after all), but as I said, it is just down the road, so I’ll leave that particular train of thought there.
At the race village race numbers were handed out (along with an ankle tag which contained the timing chip) and the group of Striders formed-up for the start of the 20 Miler.
Runners of the Rother Valley Parkrun will be familiar with some of the route, as the start and end of the route skirted the park’s two lakes.
At the pre-start briefing the route was read out to us, which basically went:
1 lap of the northern lake, 2 laps of both lakes (always anti-clockwise), turn right on to the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT), progress to mile 13, turn back along the same track (back to Rother Valley), do three quarters of a lap of both lakes, go over to a “causeway” and then on to the finish. Right, got that? Off you go.
The 20 Miler race was to set-off just before the 10k “Cakes and Lakes” race so there was a good diverse crowd waiting to race, with a few Striders among them.
My plan was to use the race as pacing training, and I decided that a steady 9 minute / mile pace would be a good thing to practice, so I was in the hands of the trusty Garmin on my wrist.
The starting gun was fired and we were off. The start was quite crowded and overtaking opportunities were limited, but as the crowd thinned runners could settle-down to their chosen paces. Then I saw Richard Pegg ahead and took up position in his slipstream.
After the initial laps of the lakes, we were directed by the marshals out to the TPT, the paths were mostly good with some light gravel, under good tree cover (regulating the temperature) past the sewage works, and then on to the turnaround point, past the faster runners who had already turned-round and headed back for home.
The turning point at mile 13 was just outside Poolsbrook (another location familiar to Parkrunners) and was marked by a small metal table wrapped in a HRRC high-vis jacket, not a very important point, but it makes a change from a road cone.
The return run was along the path we had come out on, and the runners in both directions exchanged greetings and encouragement.
At about mile 18 we arrived back at Rother Valley and my lack of long run training was showing, and I was finding it harder to keep up with Mr Pegg.
With the flags of the finish line in sight, we were sent down a left turn (with the apologies of the marshal) away from the main path and eventually round a road cone, and then back to rejoin the main path, and on to the finish.
I personally didn’t have any problems with the route and there were marshals at most of the right points, and in the others the course was indicated by polyethylene tape, but some did complain that they were not directed to the exit leading to the TPT by marshals (which the organisers have acknowledged in an e-mail after the race, to have been a problem for some).
The race has many things going for it. It is local, cheap, well-organised and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. It is relatively flat (definitely a plus point in my opinion), rural, with regular water stations, you get a nice perspex medal for your efforts once you have crossed the finish line, and there are cakes. What is more, you get to run a decent distance, and in a competitive, but supportive environment.
On the downside it is not a particularly varied route (being largely lakeside and woodland), and the relatively short laps at the beginning presumably made it hard for marshals to judge if runners had already completed the requisite number of initial laps, or had been lapped by faster runners (making it unclear who was to be directed to the TPT), but that is about it.
I managed to keep to my pacing target fairly well, and found the race to be just the training that I needed. I really enjoyed it. Maybe talk of a P.B. doesn’t mean much on, what was only my second run at the 20 Mile distance, but I got one of them as well.
The 20 miler race was won by Luke Tipping (Steel City Striders) in 1:59:09 and Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers and AC) in 2:13:54.
Ed: As well as Luke winning the race, Striders Nick Booker, Graham Goff, and Kate Waddicor all finished first in their age category. Unfortunately, I’ve had issues viewing the full results and so don’t have everyone’s age category position.
Link to full 20 miler results here.
In the Lakes and Cakes 10k Joe Sweetnam-Powell (Sheffield RC) was first in 34:49 and Strider Abbie Pearse was first lady in 38:14. Wei Chen and Helen Eberlin were first in their age category.
Link to full 10k results here.
Striders 20 miler results
|Pos||Name||Cat||Cat Pos||Chip Time|
Striders 10k results
|Pos||Name||Cat||Cat Pos||Chip Time|