Race Date: Satrurday/Sunday 24th/25th June 2023
For anyone who hasn’t yet done the Round Sheffield Run it is advertised as an “exciting, innovative and social concept that brings the best bits of running into one memorable event” and it didn’t fail to disappoint! The differences to any normal race are that there are 11 timed stages with various lengths of recovery/walking sections in between. It was about 20km of timed running and 24km total distance. The running is generally all on trails and through parks of Sheffield, with the walking/recovery sections along any busy roads as no roads are closed as part of this event. Entrants can enter as individuals or as pairs (female, male or mixed) and the event is also run over two days with multiple waves so you have no idea who has won until Sunday afternoon!
I tend to get nervous about any races the closer it gets to the start time, even parkruns! So it was novel experience for me to approach the start of this event with just as much excitement as nerves, due to the staged nature of the event and that I’d recced the first few stages a few weeks ago and knew what I was in for (for the first climb at least!). Given I’d not done any race like this before, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it in terms of the stages. Do I run it like a half marathon or an interval session? I had intended to start at a pace I thought I could keep up for a half marathon and possibly slowly jog all the recovery sections to ensure my legs didn’t seize up. However, after the second stage that all went out the window and I ended up running it much more like an interval session and there was no way I was going faster than a slow walk on any of the recovery stages!
My boyfriend had also entered the event (who is not a strider but is a pretty speedy runner and faster than me!) and when we told our friends they always assumed we’d entered as a pair, but no, we’re both too competitive for that and I don’t enjoy running when I’m slower than my companion! We were running on the Saturday morning, which started off fairly cloudy but very humid! We turned up and collected our timing devices, which were not quite what I’d imagined and I quickly decided there was no way I could run with it round my neck as many other people planned to, as it would irritate me to no end or fly off! And the dibbing in and out process also looked pretty complex and wasn’t particularly conducive to running starts or sprint finishes to any of the stages! But at least everyone was in the same boat.
We started in the 08:45 wave, and although we both would have qualified for the elite wave we decided this was too scary so thought we’d start in the next wave. Our first error was that we hadn’t realised there was another wave at 08:35 and slower runners had been advised to enter an early wave to ensure they finished the course. So we prepared for a lot of overtaking up the hill on stages 1 and 2, which had a few fairly narrow sections! The first two stages passed fairly quickly, with a lot of energy expended shouting “excuse me” to get past other runners, encouragement to other striders, and bursts of speed to try and get round other groups before any dibbing in and out at the many road crossings! I decided that if I entered next year I would definitely enter the elite wave if I still qualified, but actually it was quite motivating and sociable gaining on others rather than watching them run away into the distance, and I got many shouts of encouragement at the top of the hill on stage 2 when I ran past the majority of people walking! And I possibly ran faster than I would have in the elite wave, with all those short bursts of speed to overtake people!
Anyway, at the top of the hill at the end of Stage 2 I got another mental boost when I saw my boyfriend only just ahead of me (when I expected to not see him again until the finish), so I jogged to catch up with him and we had a nice chat until the start of Stage 3. Now there were a couple of sections of nice long descent, which are the bits of running I really enjoy! I decided to try and keep him in my sights for as long as possible and this is where my “half marathon pace” plan fell apart as I chased him down the hill and only ended up 20 seconds or so behind him at the end of these stages!
Then came the steps up to the start of Stage 5… who put all those there? It was very kind of the organisers to put the start of this stage at the top of these steps but I probably should have had a bit more rest at the top of these before starting Stage 5 which was still a lot of steep uphill! The field had started to string out quite a bit now but i was still catching up to and overtaking a few people whilst trying to keep my boyfriend in my sights for as long as possible in each stage. There were some very welcome shouts of encouragement from striders on stage 7 (I vaguely remember Tessa halfway up a hill marshalling and Colin, Laura and a couple of others wandering along the route behind Graves park) so thanks guys!
My legs were starting to tire at this point after my chasing and the hills beginning to take a toll but I was really looking forward to the relatively short and almost entirely downhill stages 8 and 9. I decided to really try and push these downs as we were getting closer to the end now and I feel like I’m pretty good at the downhills. I thought these might be my only chances to beat my boyfriend at any of the stages and although I was only a few seconds behind him on stage 8, lo and behold I managed to outsprint him down the steep section 9, which was called the “king/queen of the descent”.
After all that effort pelting down the hill, on the walk between stages 9 and 10 my legs were starting to seize up and I wasn’t quite sure how I would manage the long and uphill stage 10… I knew it would be the least enjoyable stage! Up the hill we went and this is where my boyfriend disappeared into the distance fairly quickly and I lost a lot of time on other competitors (when I compared the stage breakdown later). However, I refused to give in and walk any of it, except up the steep stairs before Chelsea park, where I told myself it was a tactical decision to walk and save some energy! Although this stage was far harder and my pace slower than the other stages, I felt better knowing that I’d put my all into the stages beforehand and didn’t have anything left!
The only thing left was the sprint finish, but I wasn’t quite sure how I’d manage this 400m stretch given my legs had pins and needles on the walk between sections 10 and 11 and I couldn’t feel them properly! All the other runners seemed to have deserted me on this walk so I got to the sprint finish entirely alone, although this prompted the Marshall at the start of stage 11 to organise what can only be described as a photo shoot, telling me to do different poses before dibbing me in for the final stretch! Finally I set off on what felt like an incredibly long “sprint” finish and eventually crossed the line and could enjoy drinking lots of water, eating snacks and resting my very tired legs!
I was very surprised when I received my timing printout that I was currently the 5th individual female, although then read it was only out of 9 finishers so I fully expected to drop many places when other runners finished! However, I retained 5th place on Saturday and was only beaten by 2 female runners on the Sunday, meaning I finished 7th which was a great achievement for me! Unfortunately we couldn’t hang around in Endcliffe park on Saturday afternoon because it would have been a great place to spend the afternoon with food, drinks, live music, friends and lovely weather!
Well done to everyone who ran over the weekend, especially in the hot and humid conditions! A special shout out to our three fastest female pairs who won the female pair club prize, Rob and Ryan who were the fastest male pair and commiserations to Frances and Gilly who ran an amazing time but missed out on first female pair overall by an agonising 1 second! Thanks to all the incredible marshals and volunteers, it was an amazing event! I will definitely be signing up next year, possibly for the winter event too, and would encourage everyone else to as well! It really was a different and sociable event combining all the best bits about running!
|2nd||Gillian Allen/Frances Roberts||01:23:31|
|5th||Laura Mella/Kathryn Liddiard||01:32:01|
|7th||Emily Green/Stephanie Millar||01:32:48|
|10th||Jeni Harvey/Claire Grisdale||01:37:47|
|34th||Emma Kingston/Victoria Muscroft||01:57:47|
|94th||Joanne Cole/Julie Robinson||02:11:16|
|114th||Lucy Mottram/Catherine Nettleton||02:15:28|
|194th||Rebecca Pollitt/Julie Hurley||02:35:27|
|231st||Jane Clawson/Rebecca Robson||02:47:14|
|13th||Caroline Brock/James Fulcher||01:33:36|
|37th||Caroline Greenough/Martin Greenough||01:47:34|
|124th=||Corinne Howse/Jonathan Howse||02:09:39|
|127th||Rachael Hyman/Ben Hyman||02:09:42|
|144th=||Matt Broadhead/Elin Reeves||02:12:03|
|146th||Adam Brooks/Sophie McKie||02:12:11|
|154th||Laura Rangeley/Christopher Smith||02:14:15|
|178th||Guy Woodcock/Nicola Platts||02:19:20|
|188th||Caroline Brash/Isaac Smith||02:21:04|
|220th||Andrew Moore/Colleen Moore||02:27:32|
|272nd||Richard Pegg/Nancy Stuart||02:46:55|
|281st||Katja Danson/Jim Danson||02:50:49|
|296th||James Norton/Natalie Khoaz||03:07:16|
|1st||Ryan Sheppeck/Robert Byers||01:10:28|
|18th||Nigel Barnes/Warren Brown||01:28:11|
|21st||Sergei Shkul/Evan Shkul||01:31:07|
|46th||Alexander Briggs/Joshua Hartle||01:42:34|
|69th||Andy Green/Mark Baines||01:49:47|
|94th||Ryan Talley/Steve Blake||01:58:20|
|137th||Liam Russell/Ed Williams||02:18:45|
|40th||Keith Tud Jackson||01:36:46|
Full Results; here