Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon 2024 Race Report

By: Melanie English

Race Date: 12th May, 2024

Venue: Leeds, West Yorkshire

So if you’re looking for a marathon that’s scenic, with great crowd support and a few hills thrown in, look no further than just up-the-road in Leeds.

Race plan 

This was my fourth marathon after doing the London Virtual 2020 and then two consecutive London marathons 2022 and 2023. I ran the 2023 one in 4:50 and was most pleased with my time, and had decided I was more than happy with that as a P.B.

Knowing Leeds was a hilly race, and feeling that my training wasn’t as good as it felt leading-up to London 2023, my plan was just to enjoy it, and get round. In the days leading-up to raceday we were bombarded with e-mails from the “Race for All” organisers about the predicted hot weather. I changed my race plan to simply “not to die”!

Getting There

This was straightforward after an early start from Sheffield. We drove to the park-and-ride straight off the motorway. We showed our tickets and there were plenty of buses to take us straight to the stadium for the start. The buses drop you off about a 10 minute walk from the stadium.


On entering the stadium half marathon runners were directed one way and marathon runners the other. Bag drop was simple…we debated over whether to keep the sunglasses, but at this point it was dull and wasn’t overly warm. Bag drop was done with sun glasses left in the bag and forgetting to re-apply that sunscreen!

Two toilet trips, my friend had a coffee, we had a look round the various stalls, then a few selfies, and our pre-race warm-up was complete!

The Race 

We were told to start to assemble into our colour waves. I was in yellow but my friend was in purple so I dropped back to start with her and we got ourselves right at the front of the purple wave.  We then bumped into another friend. We chatted and took a few more selfies. I set my watch to start which gave me the message that “an easy work out was advised, due to a poor nights sleep!”. Not really the message I needed at the start line of 26.2 miles!

We were then walked to the start line. This was a bit strange as we were stopped right on the timing mat. The organisers held us back ’till the previous wave had disappeared. We had a count down from 10, and then we were off. It felt strange as we were first over the line with an empty road ahead of us. We ran round the corner and within a few yards I had immediately lost both friends…I wondered if I should hold back for my friend or speed up to catch the other. In the end I just stuck to running what I was comfortable with, knowing a marathon is a long game. We ran out through Headingley. The crowd support was amazing and headed out of Leeds and into the countryside. At one point we ran on a small lane with some sheep that had got out of the field onto the lane and were petrified as over 4,000 runners hurtled by in the other direction.  The route so far had been mainly gradually uphill.  I think I got to about 8/9 miles and I said to someone “do we ever go downhill”. Thankfully at mile 10 there is a nice downhill section. Which then leads into a not-so-nice out-and-back section. I saw my friend ahead going the other way and spent the next bit looking for my other friend. I didn’t see her and realised she had obviously dropped a long way behind. I also looked for Striders on the other side, but there were none to be seen!

So we carried on though nice villages with again, just brilliant support. By this time the sun had come out and was beginning to get very hot. I spent more time worrying I had not re-applied that suncream. By mile 15 I was tiring, I decided to have a little pause at the water stop. I stopped and immediately realised I needed the toilet. There was only one woman waiting so I joined the queue.

Not so fast toilet stop done, and carried on running. The next mile or so was hard, I found it hard to get running again after the toilet stop and was just plodding on remembering my race plan (not to die). The sun was beating down, there was no shade and I knew I still had a massive hill to run up. But then, just as I was beginning to lose it all, we ran into Otley. This was just amazing, the crowds here were incredible. Wow it was just so perfectly-timed. This gave me just the boost I needed as out of Otley and you’re into the hill climb. This comes at about mile 18 and it’s two miles of up.

Thankfully people had come out with hose pipes to help cool us down as we made the climb. Many runners all round were walking, I carried on running, I walked a bit and had a nice chat to another runner. Who said she was local but would never run up this hill! I stopped going up to take a selfie of the lovely view we were rewarded with.

As I almost reached the top, a look at my watch and I suddenly realised if I put my foot down I could actually come in in under 5 hours. I quickly changed my race plan from “not to die” to “run for my life. Put my foot down and go for it!”

So I absorbed myself in my music, gave a massive shout out every time I got to a mile maker. This gave me a boost and also seemed to make me run faster as people about looked to see who the nutter was. The crowd support was incredible again all the way back.

Back through Headingley, round the side of the stadium and into the middle of it for a stadium finish.

As soon as I stopped I realised actually how hot it had got …but I didn’t care I was too excited as somehow I got myself a new marathon P.B.: 4.48. A whole 2 minutes faster than London…unbelievable! I collected my medal chatted to my friend that I had bumped into at the start and had finished. I drank my warm ERDINGER lager drink Run for All like to give you.

I used the tracking app to monitor the progress of my friend that I had traveled with. She finished in 6:10, and also loved it.

The only negative thing that I’ve heard about this year’s race was about the way back, where the marathon runners merged with the half marathon runners, apparently this made the course congested for the faster marathons runners. But at my pace this wasn’t an issue.

This race was so friendly, runners, marshals, supporters, all of them. It was just brilliant. The atmosphere was amazing. After only running the London marathon I wondered if another one could be as good…But Leeds was… a brilliant marathon close to home …just do it!

The Race was won by Joe Sagar of Leeds City Athletics Club in 2:25:42.

The first female was Mellissah Gibson of Ealing, Eagles Running Club in 2:45:16

Strider’s Results:

Pos. Name Cat. Cat. Pos. Chip Time
298 Paul Hargreaves M40 84 03:24:55
425 Ollie Carlisle M40 119 03:31:58
573 Alexander Briggs MS 338 03:38:25
589 Giulia Neri F40 8 03:38:49
1153 Brian Jenkins M50 95 03:56:58
1159 Abigail Hickinbottom F40 30 03:58:05
1357 Andy Hinchliffe M60 17 03:58:27
3054 Melanie English F40 192 04:48:39
3297 Richard Adams MS 1519 04:55:45

Full Results (Marathon):

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