Race Date: Sunday 5th February 2023
Race Report by: Emily Green
The start of the 2023 road championship and leagues! In the lead up to the race, there was plenty of banter and discussion about who was in which league and who was going to outsprint who on the finish line come race day! The course was described as a fast and a PB opportunity but definitely not one for pretty photos going out and back along an A road through West Yorkshire’s finest industrial area; why wouldn’t you be super excited about having to meet at 6.45am for this race?!
Despite being a Strider for over 9 months, joining after last year’s Sheffield Half and then fracturing my tibia in August, this was my first official individual race for SCS (having done Dam Flask and the infamously scorching Dronfield Relay). When finding out my league earlier in the week, you could say I went into freakout mode that I was going to end up being way down the field and totally embarrass myself having been put into League 2. I looked at the list of people I was up against and thought @£$k! They’re all incredibly quick and have all been racing through Autumn and Winter why the hell am I in this league?! Imposter syndrome set in.
I had no idea what sort of race pace I was in at 10k and have never raced the distance. I’d done a couple of park runs recently and got within 30 seconds of my pb set just before my injury but other than that and speed with Zebedee, I was diving into the unknown and just hoping I didn’t get overexcited and set off too quickly and blow up at the end. My aim was to get under 45mins and if I can get close to 42 minutes I’d be chuffed!
Sunday’s 5.45am alarm felt brutal and I set off for the party bus organised by Peggy (thank you so much for sorting this as not sure I’d have made it to Dewsbury, if I’d have had to drive myself at such an hour!). Arriving at Dewsbury early, we were disappointed to find that no coffee shops were open (rude! Do they not know runners only function on caffeine?!?) and the only option was a £1 instant cup of coffee, not the start I was hoping for but it could have been worse and been freezing cold, oh wait…
Jumping back on the bus to get warm, I then had to make the very important decision of leggings or shorts with Zebedee’s words of wisdom swimming around my head…I went for leggings, vest and gloves (sorry Zebedee, it was just too cold to do shorts and vest!) I headed down with some Striders to start warming up and run off some of the pre-race nerves and then set out to find the 40 and 45 min pacers to try and start somewhere inbetween. Bumping into some other League 2 runners, I settled for starting a row or 2 behind the 40 minute pacer and off we went (well after getting through the bottleneck start line, a bit of a false start!)
I’d looked up that to do 43 minutes, I needed to run 4:18 min/km and on looking at my watch at half a km in, I spotted that I was around 4:05 pace but felt ok and didn’t panic. I spotted Nick and Sarah, who were in my league, and just tried to hold on! They weren’t lying about the view whilst running and I put my head down and just tried to keep regulating my breathing and pace on the slightly up hill way out. At around 4 and a bit km, I spotted the first runner coming back with the car around 17 mins and stupidly thought, I must be really close to the turn around and the relief of knowing it was all down hill back to the finish line…Who was I kidding and the turn, seemed to never come but eventually, I rounded the bend and headed off ‘down the hill’.
Spotting a fellow league 2 runner not far behind, I knew I needed to keep up my pace, if not push a little quicker and felt the benefits of the downhill for about 2 kms. I did try and grab a water at around 5.5/6km but failed to grab the first one and chocked on the 2nd cup I grabbed so noted to not bother next time for a 10k! The out and back does allow you to spot and cheer on fellow Striders and I loved spotting them along the way and giving them a little cheer
At kilometer 7, I started to hit a wall and was glad to not spot anymore striders to cheer! The benefits of the downhill seemed to disappear as the course went very flat for far too long for my liking and my legs started to feel heavy. My pace dropped to 4.20 and I knew I needed to kick, telling myself I only had less than 15 mins of pain to go. Nick and Sarah by this point were too far ahead for me to catch so it became a clock exercise and I realised that I was on course to finish quicker than 42 minutes. A quick interaction with a Totley female runner who gave me the encouragement I needed to keep pushing on and I kicked on. The sight of the 9km marker was a welcoming but also depressing sight as it meant I still had 1000m to go…
I counted down every 100m after that and kicked hard at 200m to go (apparently completely ignoring Malcolm’s cheering and encouragement – I’m so sorry, I was in a world of pain by this point!) and according to my Garmin peaked at 2:51km pace at the end! Those speed sessions coming into their own. Crossing the line, I stopped my watch and was in total shock when I saw it was 41:38 and was even more blown away when my official text came straight through to say it was even quicker and officially I’d run in 41:33!
I wasn’t the only one to smash their targets and PBs with nearly everyone I spoke to afterwards celebrating a new milestone and some even beating their previous bests by 3 minutes! Due to the relatively flat course, it does attract runners from all over the country however the race was won by Omar Ahmed of Birchfield Harriers, a previous Percy Pud winner, in a casual 29 minutes and 56 seconds. The first female to cross the finish line was Sarah Kemshall of St Theresas AC in 34 minutes and 35 seconds…
First Strider went to Rob Byers in 33:08 who came 40th overall in bib 40! As I said before, there were lots of amazing performances by Striders but special mention to the following who achieved category wins:
Caroline Brock FV35 and first female strider 37:46
Dot Kesterton FV70 45:26
Helen Eberlin FV75 58:49
There was also 3 (technically 4 – awaiting committee approval) club records broken:
Caroline Brock FV35
Lucy Broom FV45
Dot Kesterton FV70
Helen Eberline FV75
All the Striders results can be viewed below:
Well done to each and every one of you! The full results can be viewed here.
What I’ve loved about being a part of this club is that everyone celebrates everyone’s successes and it means the world. Whether runners had ran the whole way without stopping, broken the hour mark, gone sub 50 for the first time, gone sub 45 or those crazy ones who went sub 40, every milestone was celebrated and I felt so proud to be a Steel City Strider, so much so, I got back and signed up for Wombwell 5 miles and Eyam half (yes I am aware of the hills…) because why wouldn’t I want to be out racing with my SCS friends as much as possible! This club really is the greatest and I’m so glad I finally took the plunge last April to join the club having only taken up running during lockdown as what else could I do with my one allocated daily exercise per day! From cursing my sister, following a 3k run (where I walked more than half of it), and telling her I would never ever run again and how could she possibly find this enjoyable and fun, the weekend before Boris locked us down, to being able to run a 10k in less than 42 minutes, it’s been quite a whirlwind journey and I can’t wait to see how this year’s road league and championship will play out! See you all in Wombwell on the 19th when I won’t be quite as fresh having supervised 74 Year 6-9s skiing in Italy the week before! Always up for a challenge!