S Yorks Half Marathon – report by Tom Gibbons

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.

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