Race Date: Sunday 20th March 2022
Race Report by Des Ryan
I arrived at Sherwood Pines at ~9am Sunday morning. The weather is beautiful, cold but very sunny, and it is very very busy.
Dashed down to the registration office to collect my number and then back to the car to prepare….get my game face on.
Strider vest & shorts were the order of the day, fiddled with the annoying ‘tie to shoe’ chip, energy gel, water and am off for a little warm-up. I wasn’t feeling it tbh, huffing & blowing during a 0.4 mile jog through the forest. What’s wrong with me!
Some indecipherable bellowing on the bull horn and we line up. Some runners doing complex stretching exercises and one gent rocks up in three quarter length ‘trousers’, mid-calf white socks, short sleeved shirt, and what look like loafers. Go!! Three quarter length blasts off at impressive pace. It’s a nice downhill start, taking it steady, don’t get sucked into 10k pace (half marathon & 10k runners started together). Take a right and the race is on. I failed to get my game face on and the running is tough straight away. Keep going, first mile is always tough…..but that heavy feeling persists.
It takes 3 miles before I feel ok, still tough but you feel the rhythm, that difficult to describe looseness, my running is online. I come across ‘three quarter length’ on a hill, weaving around and not looking happy. Then am in a head to head with a young lady, I pass her on the hills, she passes me on the flats, but a long hill finishes our time together.
The forest is beautiful but the open tracks with white sand/gravel give an odd desolate feel….particularly on the long uphill drags, where the trail disappears into the distance. The bright sunshine makes the tracks quite surreal with reflected whiteness, adding to the ‘oddness’.
I get overtaken by two male ‘international ultra runners’ incredibly bright, coloured gear, giant headbands & shades….chatting about epic running adventures. My running is improving so I take back my place, and leave their adventure chat behind (I finish 6 minutes ahead of them btw 😉).
The race is two laps of Sherwood, open tracks and some beautiful narrow trails through the woods. At the end of lap 1 we part company with the 10k guys, and briefly wonder if ‘three quarter length’ is running 10k or half. I start making progress on lap 2, particularly on the hills. The sun feels hot, am working hard, and am mashing the miles.
The field is spread out now and my next targets are quite a way away….keep pushing 3 to go. My first target stops dead just as I catch him….doubled over, holding his stomach, but right beside a marshal. My next target is a big guy, going well but definitely suffering….the sun does feel hot. He sees my shadow, gives me a thumbs up, and says something encouraging to me as I pass….I respond with ‘nearly there, keep pushing’. He however increases his pace, slots in behind me, big pounding steps. Mile 12 I deliver my best pace of 7:22 mins/mile…..I know what I have left and can suck up the pain. I pass some more runners, some walking now. It’s slightly uphill now, and it’s hurting. There is a crowd in front of me cheering, run straight at them then 90 degree right turn, and charge uphill to the finish line, passing a few more runners. Given the awful start I was pretty happy with a 1:48. Jaffa cakes, water & medal collected….then stagger back to the car.
Overall a tough run, and once again I discover that no matter how bad I feel at the start, dig deep and push on….it will get better. For me this is the biggest fight in any race…those first few miles. The effort needed to overcome these is much greater than running 7:22 at mile 12….weird!
317 runners took part in the Sherwood Pines Half Marathon. Paul Anderson (unaffiliated) won the men’s race in a time of 01:23:42. The women’s race was won by Emily Smith of Barrow Runners, in a time of 01:26:09. Two Striders took part.
Full results can be found on the Nice Work website.