A day at the races

22nd October 2021

Asda Foundation Yorkshire Marathon and 10 x miles

Andy finishing in style

Sunday 17th October 2021 was the revised date for the long-awaited Covid-postponed 2020 events. We had two teams from KUHAC:

Andy and Josh Dickerson, Becky and Laura for the marathon

Keith (me), Claire, Tom, Nush, Simon Adcock, Dannie and Lee for the 10 x miler.

 

Very welcome support was provided by Hayley, Sarah, Rob Jasper and Celina.

 

My day started with a 5.00am alarm call for an early breakfast of tomato juice, porridge with banana and grapes, slice of toast with cream cheese and tomato, and a small mug of tea. Even at this unearthly hour, I like to stock up. To avoid any delays, my bag was already packed and ready from the day before, with number tag for the bag drop attached and race number pinned to the vest.

 

Claire picked me up at 6.30am, and we collected Becky a few minutes later. She was understandably very nervous as this was her first marathon and the tension had been gradually building over the last few weeks as race day approached. I could see that my psychological powers of calming were going to be tested to the limit.

 

So having worked my magic in the car (well, sort of) we set off for Elvington airfield, from where Becky had pre-booked park & run tickets on the 8.00am bus to the events village at York University campus. We met Tom, Laura and Nush at the airfield with Laura somehow managing to keep her race-day nerves under some sort of control. She was obviously feeling the butterflies as this was also to be her first time at the big one.

 

Like me, Nush has previous marathon experience and the addition of her calming influence and words of encouragement was really welcome. And I have to say, she is really good at calming people down.

 

It was already wet and chilly and the forecast was not great. Nush was managing to form a primitive waterproof out of a bin liner although you can’t believe how fiddly it can be to turn a bin liner upside down and rip holes in the right places. Doubt if it will ever catch on as a fashion accessory.

 

It was here on the campus that I realised my need for multiple toilet stops before a race was totally dwarfed by the capacity of Nush, who used every available opportunity to find a portaloo. The queues were quite long but there were plenty provided (much better than I have seen at other events).

 

The start for both runs was about a 10 minute walk from the baggage drop, so we went there with Becky and Laura and took photos before their 9.30am start (we didn’t have Andy and Josh with us at that point). We then headed back and Hayley took photos of the 10 x mile group.

 

The rain soon stopped; the marathon runners had caught some of it at the start, but the 10 x miler turned out to be a dry run at a reasonable temperature – ideal conditions really. It was however very crowded at the start and it took a while before we could actually break into a run (there goes our expected 70 minutes finishing time).

 

Having come back from several injuries over the last couple of years or so, Claire, who I have taken on many training runs, was definitely the boss on this one as this was my first official event after a few months of recovering from injury. I was very much the novice under these circumstances.

 

This was always going to be a slower more controlled run than normal, in which we would do the whole thing together and not try to race each other (fortunately we are not competitive – much). To be honest, it was really enjoyable running this way as a team working for each other, and I was kept strictly under Claire’s orders not to push on too early and pay for it later. Although I have many more years’ running experience, Claire is much better than me at knowing how to deal physically and mentally with injury so I had to behave.

 

Although we had started in the “under 2 hours” starting position, around 3 to 4 miles in we found ourselves getting very close to the 1:45 lady pacer and it was looking like we might go past her. But no, Claire was having none of that and we dutifully dropped the pace to let her go, but it wasn’t until 7 miles or so that she pulled away and left us.

 

The support around the course was phenomenal, and as we had our names on our tops and race numbers we kept hearing shouts of “Well done Keith and Claire” / “Well done Claire and Keith”. Not sure how many times we heard this - Claire stopped counting after 16. There was also lots of music along the way, creating a really vibrant atmosphere.

 

I was told it was an attractive course but my concentration is always on the run so there is no point in asking me what we passed along the way; I never seem to take in the sights properly.

 

The course itself is the same at the start for both events and then splits at 5 miles into the 10 x miles to the right and marathon to the left – just like getting an aircraft except we weren’t tempted to turn left.

 

The 10 x miler is very slightly undulating but nothing too difficult apart from a steeper rise in the last mile before getting to the top and dropping down to a short fast finish. Claire was making sure I got up the hill okay, as I was finding it a bit taxing, but then probably wished she had just left me there, as, when we came over the brow, I grabbed her hand and put in a burst of speed to the finish. As I say, competitive or what? We finished in 1:46:58, so just maybe we could have passed that 1:45 pacer after all.

 

Our other 10 x milers all ran exceptionally good times, with Dannie picking up a PB.

 

After collecting our T-shirt and medal, it was back to the baggage drop to put on something a bit warmer and then a leisurely lunch from one of the vans serving burgers, pizzas and drinks. Heading back to where the marathon was going to finish, it was a bit tricky trying to find a decent vantage point in the crowds, but we met Nush, Tom, Sarah and Celina and found a good spot.

 

Watching people come in is an incredible experience, as you get the whole range of reactions from the runners; some struggling with the pain of their bodies having gone far beyond what they were supposed to do; others racing in over the last few hundred yards, others punching the air and working the crowds of spectators – the smiles, the tears, the jubilation, the agony. It’s all out there exposed and you get the lot and would have to be very hard inside to not be moved by it all.

 

Andy and Josh were running for charity for very personal reasons. Josh came in first, followed a few minutes later by Andy, who was clearly suffering with cramp but was definitely not going to come in walking. It was a privilege to cheer them both in and I think there were a few lumps in throats.

 

And then Becky and Laura came into view, looking remarkably fresh and smiling and putting in a burst of speed to run hand -in-hand to the finish. There is no way to describe a moment like that; you just had to be there. All the months of hard training and dedication had been for this finale in which they both officially became marathon runners. Wow, there is nothing more that can be said 💙💛Keith n' Claire