S Yorks Half Marathon – 18th March 2012
Race report by Tom Gibbons
Jeff Belt, Paul McGough and myself travelled down to Barnsley on Sunday 18th March to take on the South Yorkshire Half Marathon. The race was organised byBarnsley Athletic Club in association with Manvers Triathlon Club and was very well marshalled and marked out. It looked like it had been very wet overnight but the weather was clear when we arrived and it began to dry up very quickly.
Upon arrival we immediately found a parking space in a free car park a few hundred yards up the road from the race HQ. The race started and finished at Manvers Waterfront Boat Club where bacon butties, cakes and coffee were all being served in abundance – ideal preparation for running. After walking down from where we had parked we were surprised to meet none other than our own Gareth Wilson who wasted no time in telling us that his previous night’s exploits meant he was not in the best shape for running 13.1 miles.
The start of the race was very relaxed with little fuss and there was ample space to move about which makes a change from most races where runners are sardined in. The course was all on road and went through a mixture of country-side and town meaning there was always something different to look at or avoid such as sheep, cars, old ladies, dogs. These were welcome distractions as they minimised boredom.
The course was comprised of two 4-5 mile laps preceded and followed by two shorter parts from/to the start/finish area. The route was undulating with two main uphill parts and a number of other slight ups and downs. I started the race with a couple of months marathon training in my legs so I knew I was in good shape to push for a PB if the conditions were right and luckily they were. I started at a pace I felt comfortable with and decided to see what it was after the first mile marker.
Gareth was way out in front at this point and so I decided to run my own race rather than try to catch him. I was surprised to see that I was comfortably doing 6:15/mile pace and I thought I would stick at it and see if I could maintain this throughout. The good news was that I did manage to keep it up and even did a couple of sub-6 minute miles after the long descents. I was gradually catching people on the second lap and began to get closer to Gareth at this point. I got within about 10 metres of him after about 8 miles but then he seemed to kick on after the final descent of the second lap and stretched the gap by about another 20 metres.
As we came to the last 2 mile section of the course to the finish I planned to try to go for it and get as close to Gareth as possible. Gareth came 16th with a time of 1:20:56 – not bad after a sleepless night, a curry and beers! I managed to finish 17 seconds behind him in the end (17th with a time of 1:21:13) and really surprised myself by taking over 3 minutes off my previous PB (1:24:26) set at the Brass Monkey earlier in the year.
Paul came 37th with a time of 1:25:59 which he was pleased with considering he’d just come back from a two-week skiing holiday. Jeff came 44th with a time of 1:28:35 and was well under the 1:30 time he’d set himself. There were 382 runners in total. Our team came 3rd overall, a position I am sure we could improve on next year if more club members were to target this race. All in all this was a very well organised race and I’d recommend it to all – particularly the bacon butties, but preferably after the finish rather than before. Jeff said there were “muffins the size of your head” on sale so well worth the one and a half our trip down.