Running ten kilometres of urban road with nothing but industrial estates, take-away food shops and Yorkshire stone terraces to look at isn’t my idea of fun, even if there’s one of Yorkshire’s most understated historic buildings at its turnaround point.
But what makes this mud-lover and hill-botherer break out the road shoes isn’t the run, even if it is fast and flat, it’s not the tee-shirt, I have more of those than I can ever use and not one of them fits me anyway, no, it’s the company of runners all the way.
The Abbey Dash is just that, a dash to Kirkstall Abbey, ‘one of the most complete examples of a medieval Cistercian abbey in Britain’ (says the Leeds Council website) and then back the same way to the city centre.
More than 12,000 runners hit the tarmac for the 29th Abbey Dash, which is run in aid of Age UK, and I felt as if I knew every one of them. The faster the runners, the nearer the front they started, so by the time I was off and hitting the first kilometre, these guys were on their way back. The winner did it in less than half an hour and soon there was a steady stream of runners on the home run, all near enough to do a high five, many calling out ‘come on, Anne!’ as I encouraged them to go faster. Wow, said one of my fellow runners, you know a lot of people, don’t you? I suppose I do, you know what they say, they can take the girl out of journalism, but she’ll always be a nosey beggar!
It was a great, big, friendly race full of mates from parkrun and local running clubs and it did seem as if everyone knew your name. If it’s the only road race I do, I’ll be doing it again next year, by which time I will definitely know a few more names!