Meltham (Tough) 10k 2023 report

Marcus Dearns Hangin’ (Tough)

Race date: 29 January 2023

Race distance: 10km

Race report by Matt Broadhead

If there’s one thing this race likes to be known for, it’s the climb. But what comes after can be e-squally challenging, especially given the tricky weather the West Yorkshire hills like to throw at January runners. See if you can guess what it was like this year.

A decent six Striders managed the scenic trip to Meltham this year (four of us in the Rangeleys’ car) and headed in to the swish Meltham Sports and Community Centre to collect our numbers and so Laura could have a word with Gangly Paul about bone-conducting headphones. The verdict was “probably not” given that most of the race is on open roads*.

Last year’s post-race gift was a pair of gloves, which khamsin very handy for winter running and along with a beanie hat formed part of my re-gale-ia on the start line, given the time of year. I always get too hot, but I really hate hanging around shivering before a race. After a ten-minute delay apparently caused by “heavy machinery”, we were off, along the bottom of the cricket pitch then through some houses and on to the main climb of the day, half a kilometre at 10% gradient to spread the field out a bit.

I began to breeze past some slower runners, one of whom was getting round the no-headphone rule by just playing music through his phone speaker. Though James’s “Sit Down” didn’t strike me as particularly motivational listening in a 10k race. The climb is over fairly soon but it’s done its job of fatiguing the legs and lungs as you try to do it at road-race pace. It certainly managed to leave me breathless.

The climb is followed by a nice recovery mile, which might be a bit longer some years, but not this time. As soon as we turned the left-hand hairpin to head for Blackmoorhead, the weather hit me in the face and started to take my breath away as quickly as I could regain it. I’d spent the climb trying to catch Jim Rangeley, thinking if I could keep hold of him for a bit I’d have a chance of a fastish time, and I briefly managed to overtake him on the flat, but I hadn’t remembered just how hard the “along the top” section of this triangular race is, and from the first of the two full-throttle mini-descents I knew I didn’t have the legs.

There’s some relief in climb number two, which isn’t so steep and provides a welcome lee from the weather, but that was the last bit of fun because then there’s another hamstring-knackering descent and a climb to the top of the race, just after the left turn at Holt Head, for which I have nothing. Jim was pretty much out of sight after that last descent, so I just gritted my teeth and figured I’d at least do what I could.

I think the next part is most people’s favourite, but when aeolus said and done I’m more of a climber than a descender and 130m descent in a straight line over 2km is really bloody difficult! It’s just down down down down down. I got overtaken by many people, including some I remembered overtaking on the climb, which was very annoying. Never mind, the end was almost nigh. Just a little sting in the tail as the course makes its final left turn (though at least this year we were spared the firestarter who decided to have a bonfire just as we were finishing last time).

The clock was counting down towards 48 minutes as I bust a gut to get to the line, but sadly I missed it by 3 seconds. Still a few seconds faster than last year though. I collected my nice free water bottle and wandered back along to cheer in the rest of the Striders. As Laura came round the corner the clock was showing about 59:45. “Hurri!” cane the cry as we encouraged her to put on a sprint finish, and she sneaked in with two seconds to spare.

This is a really challenging road race, you constantly feel you’re slipping off the pace. And if you don’t regret skipping it, you should definitely be sorry you mistral the cake afterward (finishers tucked in with gust-o obviously), washed down with a hot cup of typhoon.

The race was wind by Mark Holden of Dewsbury Road Runners in 36:25, and by Sally Armitage of Ilkley Harriers. 229 finished, a lot less than last year’s turnout of over 300.

Striders results

P Name Cat Time Gen P Cat P
24 Marcus Dearns MS 42:11 23 3
45 Jim Rangeley MS 46:13 42 7
63 Matt Broadhead M45 48:03 58 12
90 Helen Royles-Jones FS 50:38 12 5
160 Nada Ross F55 58:18 38 5
169 Laura Rangeley FS 59:58 42 8

Full results:

(Thanks to Laura R for the songs idea.)

*: come on, at least I didn’t make you listen to the Gary Barlow one.

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