Meltham Tough 10km

28th January 2024

The thing to know about the Meltham Tough is that even though it’s a road race, it’s got a personality more evocative of those that take place on the fells. Big climbs, tough descents, named with a touch of whimsy, a real community feel and charmingly mismatched mugs for your tea and cake at the end – all for a very reasonable entry fee, which also includes a “memento”. It’s possibly my favourite road race. I last penned a report about it in 2020, when I was the sole Strider, and this year was to be the 4th time I’ve taken it on. It always falls the weekend before my birthday, and who needs a party when you can bust your quads on some hills in West Yorkshire? So after managing to persuade a handful of friends to come along in 2022 and 2023, I was really pleased to see it included in this year’s Road Race Champs, meaning a whopping 38 of the green and gold were in attendance – over 10% of the field as a whole.

Jim and I were joined in the car by pals Kev and Matt, plus a pheasant which Matt had kindly gifted to us for our tea later on, who didn’t contribute much to the conversation. The drive across was stunning, with beautiful skies and an opportunity to pay homage to Yoghurt Land (Longley Farm) being the highlights. Upon arrival at Meltham we got a very nice thank you from the car parking marshal for travelling with a full car too.

Being held at the end of January comes with a weather risk, and there’s a warning of hypothermia on the entry page. 2020 was FREEZING and wet, 2022 was really quite nice, last year the wind nearly blew me right off the top and this year conditions were as close to perfect as you can get – cool, dry and relatively still. I’ve been training for Dewsbury 10k this winter, same as 2022, so with comparable conditions I was hoping to get somewhere near my time from then as a marker of where I’m at. Roadworks, horses and diggers have all been responsible for causing some start line consternation in the past, but no such occurrence this time and with very little fanfare we were off!

The course begins with a short drag up through a housing estate, where Joel optimistically asked me if this was “The Hill.” Nope, just A Hill, and we were soon at the top with a short blast of flat before a left turn takes you onto the first proper climb of the race. It is, as the name suggests, tough, with a corner or two that sneakily make you think you might be at the top before yet more elevation comes into view. I heard at least one “oh for fuck’s sake” on this portion, and felt a little smug in the knowledge of what was to come. Eventually it flattens out a bit, and the run over the moors is great with gorgeous panoramic views. A real treat. At 5km there’s a quick pelt into a mini valley with a water station in it, before the second arduous climb begins. More lovely views though and I felt actually able to appreciate them without the headwind of last year!

One more bit of down before Big Climb 3, which takes you to Holt Head, a sign that reads “Meltham 1/2 mile”, swiftly followed by one that says “Meltham 1 mile”. Despite a bit of undulation and moments of respite throughout, essentially the first 8km of the race just keep on lifting you higher and higher. I do think familiarity with the course helps, knowing when to push a bit harder and when to save my legs was useful, but I was still very glad to reach the final summit and begin the frankly brilliant plunge back into the village, where I recorded my fastest ever mile time.

The last 500m is a bit of a sting in the tail, and you have to remember how to stop running downhill again and get just a final bit of climb done, whilst trying not to slow down because you’re just too close to the end for such shenanigans. I crossed the line in 54.16 – exactly 3 minutes faster than my previous course best and well over 5 minutes quicker than last year’s effort, which I was absolutely delighted with – a great way to round off my FSen running “career” before I join the ranks of the F35s later this week! I shared out some birthday treats, cheered more Striders over the line, checked Rosie was still my friend (thankfully so!) and headed in for my second helping of cake of the day (I plumped for treacle cake, out of an ENORMOUS selection). It was a very jolly atmosphere, everyone seemed to have enjoyed the race and our speediest women won first female team! A great day out, and I hope more of us go back again in 2025. Definitely one to be recommended.

The race was won by Christos Tzelis of Ilkley Harriers (who crossed the line in 33.18 just one second ahead of 2nd place, so it must have been a very exciting finish!) and Lucy Robinson of Wakefield & District Harriers in 38.48. Hannah Shillitoe, Emily Green and Ellen Broad were 4th, 8th and 9th women respectively and won a team prize!

Strider Results

Position Male  Female Name Category  Cat Pos Time
23 22 Sam Needham M40 (007/033) 00:40:21
27 26 Marcus Dearns M35 (005/026) 00:40:43
29 28 Rob Dawson M50 (002/032) 00:40:55
30 29 Richard Carter M45 (003/031) 00:41:02
33 32 Paul Hargreaves M40 (008/033) 00:41:16
39 38 Phil Gregory M40 (009/033) 00:41:50
46 43 Neil Schofield M50 (003/032) 00:42:46
47 44 Luke Clay MS (015/035) 00:42:48
49 46 Alexander Briggs M35 (012/026) 00:43:05
51 48 Ben Baxendale M40 (010/033) 00:43:09
55 4 Hannah Shillitoe F35 (001/012) 00:43:43
60 54 Michael Cambell M35 (014/026) 00:44:07
62 55 Michael Richardson M45 (008/031) 00:44:14
63 8 Emily Green FS (003/021) 00:44:16
64 56 Jim Rangeley MS (016/035) 00:44:19
66 9 Ellen Broad FS (004/021) 00:44:29
71 62 Paddy Treehowes M55 (003/019) 00:45:04
82 10 Yasmine Chaffer FS (005/021) 00:45:53
92 82 Ian Black M50 (011/032) 00:47:01
112 97 Andy Hinchliffe M60 (003/015) 00:48:44
119 102 Matt Broadhead M45 (016/031) 00:49:06
124 107 Steve Blake M45 (018/031) 00:49:29
132 113 Peter McCoy M45 (021/031) 00:50:44
138 23 Cara Hanson F40 (004/011) 00:51:08
139 116 Brian Jenkins M50 (016/032) 00:51:14
151 124 Kevin Wong M45 (025/031) 00:52:45
160 129 Ryan Talley M55 (011/019) 00:53:16
172 37 Laura Rangeley FS (009/021) 00:54:16
175 138 Martin Downham M60 (007/015) 00:54:24
185 145 Nicholas Ibbotson MS (027/035) 00:54:53
191 42 Catherine McKeown F55 (004/010) 00:55:15
213 165 Joel Driver M40 (025/033) 00:57:14
232 175 Guy Woodcock M40 (029/033) 00:58:55
252 67 Nada Ross F55 (006/010) 01:00:55
253 186 Kevin Haighton M60 (010/015) 01:00:56
266 195 Clive Downing M60 (012/015) 01:02:21
282 85 Eleanor Bull FS (018/021) 01:05:28
290 90 Rosie Smith F35 (011/012) 01:06:19

Full Results

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