There comes a point in a race, usually half an hour after it’s finished, when I’m overwhelmed by a wave of contentment and satisfaction and just want to go out and give the world a great big hug.
Yesterday, despite steep hills, random scattered boulders, slippery peat and a finish up the cobbled streets of Haworth, past bewildered tourists eating Mr Whippy 99s with sprinkles, that wave of wellbeing hit me almost from the start. I say almost, for to be honest (and this is a technical term) I was parping myself at the prospect of setting off on the Half Yorkshireman. This race is just short of 15 miles, so where the ‘half’ comes in, I have no idea, maybe it’s something to do with losing half your bodyweight on the way round. Technically speaking, and I’m all for technical, it’s harder than the full marathon held at the same time, as all the hills are at the start, it’s just shorter. I think the marathoneers would say the jury’s definitely out on that.
But as soon as we were off and up the first of many hills, emerging into the open moorland, I felt incredibly happy. The fine weather helped, but it was more to do with the camaraderie of off-road runners. I exchanged pleasantries, stories and even debated the social policy underpinning health and social care reforms with fellow runners as we progressed upwards and onwards.
Of course it was hard and of course I was far from speedy, but with such fabulous surroundings, why hurry? It will be winter soon enough. Noel had been injured and hadn’t been able to put in the miles, so opted to be photographer for the day, popping up at various points on the route to snap anyone who passed, another reason to be cheerful. He commented that everyone looked as though they were enjoying themselves.
But the biggest boost of all was just near the end. The Half Yorkshireman has a sting in the tail and there’s a steep ascent up a cobbled road to the finish, which is not what you want on wobbly legs and insides that feel like they’re making their way outside. As soon as I rounded the corner I could hear my name being called and loud cheers, it was my lovely buddies from Eccleshill Road Runners, Julie and Martin Steele. Immediately, my head went up, my tired legs lifted and I was off, followed by the Steeles who saw me into the finish.
There was some suggestion that I might try the full marathon next year. Now that’s just plain daft. Though if it’s easier……maybe……..Naw…….!