Race Date: Sunday 27th March 2022
Race Report by Laura Mella
What a brilliant day this was!
The date of 27th March 2022 had been etched into my brain for a good few months – while high on endorphins after completing the Sheffield 10K in September (my first ever running event and before I joined the Striders), I’d naively entered the half without really thinking it through, and then spent a lot of time regretting my choices and wondering what I had let myself in for.
The week before the event I had a number of anxiety dreams, ranging from missing the race entirely due to forgetting to change the clocks, getting a puncture on the cycle down, and my favourite of all, Ringinglow Road being an actual cliff face that you had to scale with a rope. Thankfully, none of these things came to pass.
The day was bright and sunny, if a little chilly to start with, as Striders began to congregate and make their way up to City Hall for a team photo. As ever at races, it’s so great to see some many Striders in green and gold, excited and nervous in equal measure. I also felt very proud looking at all the pacers from the club, who do such an important job in helping people to reach their goals.
After the photo, we all headed back towards Arundel Gate. The toilet queues were ginormous, resulting in some people getting to the start line late or missing the warm up (an overenthusiastic fitness instructor asking us to wave our arms about). After a short speech from the Mayor of Sheffield, we were off!
The Sheffield Half is a tough route, almost all up for the first half with a climb that just keeps on giving, albeit in beautiful surroundings. There is the sweet relief of turning onto Sheephill Road, where you can relax a little and enjoy some amazing views, and then it’s mostly downhill all the way back, with a few cheeky inclines snuck in, to keep you working right until the end.
My goal for this event was to complete in 1.35, which seemed wildly over-ambitious, despite doing a lot of training. I planned to stick with the pacers, but almost immediately ended up ahead of them, and was too nervous to look back so just kept going. I had the mile splits handy and could see that I was going too fast on the climb, but knowing how rubbish I am at running downhill, decided to keep ploughing on so I could afford to lose a bit of time on the descent. As it turned out, I didn’t really lose any time, and by the time I got back to Hunters Bar, I realised I would easily be able to finish at my target time, if not a bit quicker. By this stage, I was absolutely knackered and my quads were starting to sting, so I eased off a bit. The stretch from the Moore Street roundabout to the finish was absolutely horrible – the slight slope felt like a mountain, and I was convinced I was going backwards at one point. Thankfully the crowds were out in force, and the shouts of encouragement powered me through to the end. I couldn’t quite believe it when I looked at my watch and my time was 1.31.14! I hung around at the finish line for a while and saw lots of Striders coming in, most looking exhausted but also beaming ear to ear.
People always talk about the amazing atmosphere at the Sheffield Half, and it was such a joy to experience. Crowds lined almost every bit of the route, clapping, cheering and giving out sweets. There was even a brass band and a choir! You couldn’t ask for more really. It’s great when someone shouts ‘Go Strider!’ as you run past, it’s a lovely reminder of the fantastic community we are a part of, and I’m convinced I can run faster in club colours. I was particularly delighted to see Colin, Caroline and others at the Knowle Lane junction with the Striders flag, whooping and cheering as we turned onto the next part of THAT HILL, and Julie with her camera as we came back down Ecclesall Road South (sorry I didn’t manage a smile!). There were also some excellent banners. My favourite was from Melanie English, which simply said ‘Don’t Be Shit’! It really made me smile, and it’s great advice for life generally.
I’ve not done many races yet, but there was something really special about the Sheffield Half for me. Seeing how well everybody ran (so many new PBs and targets smashed!) and the obvious enjoyment of running on home turf with such amazing support, a lot of people must think the same.
Same time next year?!
The first man home was Mohammed Salah of City of Sheffield in 01:09:13 and the first women to cross the finish line was Sarah Lowery for the Rotherham Harriers in 01:21:06.
How did the Striders do? Fantastically well I would say:
The above results have been taken from the official results website (although a few people may be missing – this has been sorted by Tim for anyone wondering about their results for the Striders Leagues/Championships).
The full results can be found here.