Catherine McShane’s Harewood House Half

A bit late in the day, but I have just found the race report that I started writing following Harewood House Half that I did back in February and decided that I should finish it.


A couple of friends had signed up to do the 10k and the half and I thought it would be a good reason to catch up with them. Given that it was my birthday it would be a first for me to wake up without a hangover and do something a bit more active. The hang over can wait. I had also heard from a couple of club members that it was a good race to do.


For those of you who know me know that I’m a bit of (lot of) a wimp when it comes to running off road, especially downhill. This race describes itself as having plenty of hills and muddy fields to run through as well as a bit of trail. Definitely not a pb in the making.


I had been reassured that the hills were all runnable and that the organisers had made more of them than was necessary.


I arrived at Harewood House in plenty of time and got a good parking spot not far from the start. I would’ve been there a whole lot earlier had I not double checked the start time the night before – 10am not 9am! I met up with my friends and had the usual conversations about it not being as warm as we thought it was and how many layers to wear (it was 9 degrees, which for a mid Feb morning is warm!) I had no options of layers, all I had with me was my club vest. I had made the right choice as by the first mile I was warm and glad I hadn’t put long sleeves on like Donna.


I was a bit late getting to the start pen so was well behind the 2hr 30 pacer when we set off (there are 2.30, 2.15, 2 and 1.45 pacers). It took me a few miles to get past the pacers and I did think it would be good to be able to keep in front of the 1.45 one. That didn’t go to plan!


Starting at the back does mean that you can’t set off too quickly for all the traffic but the flip side is that once you’ve worked your way through it all you do end up trying to make up a bit of time.


I knew from looking at the profile that there was climbing for about 4 miles between miles 2 and 6, between 8 and 10 and then at the end. It was correct information that the climbs were all runnable and they weren’t bad at all. My legs were the issue! As I was going round I was trying to commit to memory where I was and how I was going for the race report, forgotten all that now. What I remember is a hill, maybe between 5 & 6, where you are climbing through a forest. As you are going up you can see people on a path above you and know that you have to get up there. It wasn’t actually as dramatic as it sounds. The reality is you were climbing a bit turned a corner and were on the path you could see and it had flattened out a bit. There was a point where in my head I’d gone from racing (trying to) to it just being a nice Sunday run until somebody who I had already passed caught up with me and overtook me. That was enough to give my head a shake and get going again. I did overtake her again and kept it that way! Other bits I remember – running on some of the grassy paths was really hard work and like going through treacle. A couple of corners weren’t well marked and therefore cut by everyone! There was a few lovely stretches through the forest.

The route is twisty meaning that there are a few places where you can see where you have been or what you have got to look forward to.


At about 10 miles the front runners of the 10k came flying past. At their 8k the route split. The finish was in front of Harewood house, at the split we went left and away from the house. There might have been a few choice words from me at that point as again I was trying to run through treacle on a grassy hill. Looking forward here you could see people on the course crisscrossing the hill on front of you and see where you have been.

A mile from the finish I did think that I might sneak in under 1.45 but hadn’t accounted for the energy sapping field or the climb to the finish. Half way up the climb the 10k runners merged on to the same route to the finish. Finish time 1.46.


I found it quite a tough half marathon but I’ve done but I have only ever ran road ones so can’t compare and I am sure for those of you that do the Hardmoors this is nothing in comparison. The course is lovely and a mixture of field, tarmac, forest and pebbly paths. We couldn’t have had a better day weather wise. It is well organised with 3 water stops (water in bottles) and I would say well marked – if you discount the corners that were cut!