A tale of two half marathons

Before the fall. Thanks to Dave Woodhead for the photo.
Before the fall. Thanks to Dave Woodhead for the photo.

You know when you were a child, and you fell over, and you cried for your mum? She’d come pick you up, dust you down and put a magic plaster on the almost-invisible graze. What’s a grown-up to do when they go full-length in the moorland peat? Who does the picking-up then, eh?

I was seven miles in to the challenging and optimistically-named off-road Half Yorkshireman, which was less than half of the 14.8-mile course, we like to get value for money, we Yorkshire folk. The conditions were perfect, not too warm, a slight breeze, skylarks skylarking about and the heather laying down a stunning carpet of purple. As I chewed a home-made energy-giving marzipan ball, I was contemplating how lucky I was just to be alive on a day like this. The next thing I knew, I was watching a slow-motion movie about myself, amazed as I flew through the air, marvelling that my hat stayed in place and hoping that the drinking tube didn’t land in the mud (it didn’t, I did). I landed at full speed cushioned only by the elastic tension in my Factor Four sports bra, putting the ribs I broke earlier in the year in a bizarre falling-over incident in a municipal car park at risk of further damage. They held as I rolled on the ground, wondering if I would ever stop and hoping I wasn’t gong to lose the elevation I’d gained, well, this was a race after all.

The first instinct from this middle-age woman was to cry out, call for mum and sob. But there was no-one around, apart from two startled walkers who must have witnessed my undoing. Naturally, I jumped up, scraped off the dust and mud, pulled the heather from my socks and announced ‘well, that was embarrassing’ before running off, stifling a sob. They’re not easy, these fell runs, you know.

Just a week previously I was running the inaugural Vale of York half marathon, and it couldn’t have been more different. Fast and flat, the publicity said, long straight roads, I gave it a go because, well, because I thought I might like it. The sun shone, the organisers and support were fantastic, but I hated it. No hills, no rock, no mud, no puddles, just plod plod plod. Why run on a road when you can fly on the fells? Why tread the tarmac when you can pound the peat? Why be safe when you can fall over?

I have many running friends and they do fall into two camps, some wouldn’t dream of leaving the roads, others wouldn’t touch them with a trekking pole. And me? Even though my mum’s not around to pick me up when I tumble, I love the trails and fells and will never do a road half marathon ever again!

4 thoughts on “A tale of two half marathons

  1. Three minor points: (1) Marzipan balls have now been rebranded as ‘Pudsey Pocket Rockets’; (2) You not plodding round Bridlington half 19th Oct, 2014?; (3) Purple heather…where?

    Very well written. Now, what about the ‘Good Shepherd’ a week on Saturday…?

    1. Pudsey Pocket Rockets indeed! They were Anne’s Amazeballs first!
      We’re swapping Brid road for Harewood hills and you must have been going too fast to see the heather. I, on the other hand, got very close!
      I will investigate the Good Shepherd!
      Thanks for the nice comments and good company.

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