Racing locally doesn’t usually end well for me. As much as I love seeing all the people, pounding around an area that I know and love, with all the familiar sights, faces, sounds and smells? It just never ends well. Usually struck down with some sort of illness when the time comes to race on my doorstep. Forefront of my mind, The Wombwell 5, 2018. Racing at the start of a chest infection, prescribed antibiotics the following day. Travellers 6, 2017, the start of a long winter of illnesses and struggling my ass off, all the way round; carrying that through to the Ward Green 6, 2017. Taking it all the way back to Barnsley 10k, 2015. The last day I actually had off of running, laying in bed, listening to the wind battering the window, actually opting to skip the race and stay in bed. 3 years later, I’ve now run every day for that whole time, and I’ve started with a cough/cold, with a sniffly nose and the typical winter crap. Ellie is a lot worse than me though at the minute, despite us getting it at the same time. Dosing myself up on echinacea and a couple of sudafeds, ‘Al be reyt!’
There are many successful memories of racing locally, its my favourite kind of ‘racing,’ hitting the streets, trails or fells of your home town and seeing all those people buzzing with life, the social side of the running scene. Stopping and trying to talk to absolutely everyone that I can, now a days. With fond memories of the Spencers Dash, Ambles Revenge and Penistone 10k. The evidently favourite Barnsley Boundary Races, the ‘Old School’ Cannon Hall 10k and South Yorkshire Half Marathon at Goldthorpe. The obvious perk of running locally is the option to run there and run home, stretching as far as running home from the Cusworth 10k and Meltham 10k. You just can’t beat it!
Another thing the Barnsley 10k brings that is personal to me, is like I mentioned previously, it falls generally around my running streaks anniversary. A gentle reminder of why I run everyday, of where my running streak has brought me from and hopefully where it will eventually take me. The Great Ron Hill, began his streak off the back of a perceivable failure in his own eyes. I, began mine off of a perceivable failure in my own eyes. Skipping a race through illness and bringing my previous streak of a few months to an end. Starting it from a perceivable failure, that within myself I’ve plenty more to give and if I’m not running everyday and giving myself something worthwhile to the cause, then I’m not doing myself justice. With a drive and motivation to be the best I can be.
The streak has helped bring PB’s and it has helped bring everything that I wanted it to bring. Still in my own eyes, some way off where I want to be. Driving and motivated only for an improvement. Its all relative to the individual, its all relative to wherever I am in life. However I know, that I’ve plenty more to give. That day I spent in bed in 2015, drives me forward. Those times set prior to my streak in 2015, reminds me of where I’ve come from. These set of times from whatever has happened in 2018, reminds me of where I want to go. With all the times and statistical reinforcement that its working, which on paper, it will do any way, I’m more experienced now and I’ve learnt so much more about myself and running. I’m not naive in the fact, that potentially without running everyday, I’ll have improved anyway. The running and belief of running has given me so much more, it’s given me confidence to speak (ask Bryan just how quiet I once was), its given me a Team. Its given everyone else a Team, whether it be Team Barnsley, Penistone or the Tunnel Training Gang. That single day spent in bed, changed my life man!
Anyway onto the Barnsley 10k now, if its not a fixture in your calendar, it probably should be. Its a cracking race and even though its not the fastest of routes, it actually is. For those preferring a rolling course anyway. Starting and finishing in Royston, far from the Barnsley 6 start line. Barnsley isn’t flat anywhere you go, but in Royston it’s possibly the flattest it can be. My times here have improved over the years and so has my running, pushing and striving for the next best thing every year has definitely helped.
Having a bit of a cold and sniffle, I woke up a bit earlier, in order to help it loosen and get some breakfast down me, usually getting better as the day goes on. I got a lift through with my Dad and Mum, so that I could run home after the race and get some cool down/ extra miles in. Setting off around 8:40 from home for a 10 o’clock start. Getting there and being chucked out the near the Civic Hall, straight in to get my number and speak to a few people in the process. Quickly spying Shaun and Gary Briscoe, the fast Briscoe brother. Offering to take him on a bit of a warm up. 1.5 mile later, I was back in the civic hall. A little wet, but seeking a little refuge before going out on some longer strides before the start.
With the race being one of the only races that uses Barnsley in the title, the football club choose to support the race and support charities through participating in the event. Organised by the club chaplin, Peter Amos. He rallies the troops, bangs us all in a Whatsapp group and sets out to raise money for charity. This years charities being Yorkshire Air Ambulance and MIND. Doing his best to get many of the backroom staff and Barnsley favourites involved, such as Bobby Hassell and Martin Devaney last year. Daniel Stendel and Andreas Winkler this year. Alongside many people who pull the strings that you’ll not even know about.
An announcement from Mark, to make our way to the start line, making my way swiftly out the back of the civic hall, taking off my jumper and passing it to my dad, before striding my body out towards the park. Finding myself stood now at the top of the park gates, watching everyone make their way down to the line, stood alongside David Brooksbank. Chatting in between the well wishing and small pieces of conversation with everyone who was on their way. Waiting myself until the last possible moment to go to the startline, knowing that its a cramped start. Coming back up the hill, partly on grass and autumnal leaves. Spotting Scott Hinchcliffe #1, and Joe Sweetnam-Powell coming down, I joined them and made my way to the start. A quick chat before getting under the tape and minimal announcement, no nonsense. We was off and making our way back up the grass, a little slippy and onto the path. Up and out the park gates, to turn right onto Royston’s high street.
Out and onto the route now, rain coming down and soaking us through, trying my best to avoid puddles and splashes. Not wanting to be soaked for the full duration of the race. Really it was inevitable anyway. Setting off quick as ever and finding myself pushing the pace at the front, with Scott and Ben all the way to the coking plant. Really its a fast downhill start all the way to this point and the first rise comes on route. In previous training a favourite of mine has been to park at the Rabbit Ings and go for a run when I can. Bryan has a story about that! I know this climb, a little bit. Choosing to take my foot off the gas, offering Scott some respect in terms of class and letting him push on. My time in the lead was over and Scott was to take the reins. Ben opting to go with him. Hills, I need to do more Hills! Soaked to the bone now and a little on the cold side. Sitting in and getting through these early miles. 5:24 for the first one around the Coking Plant. Making our way out towards Ellis Laithe now, rolling with the small rises and falls. More rises though! Before a sharp a turn where we then make our way out across the Barnsley Boundary leg 2 route and on the way to a foreign land, in the form of Wakefield. 5:40 for mile 2, for a little while the route falls and your body can kick and flow with ease! As we make our way past Cold Hiendley on the country lanes. Now joined by another Wakefield Harrier, pushing me on in terms of pace and making sure I wasn’t alone, Wakefield Harrier in front and behind. Gary Briscoe or Shaun Dimelow better hurry up, could do with a bit of back up! My quickest mile of the race, 5:17 followed. As we sweeped and found some solitude in the shelter of trees. Constant rain, soaked. Puddle dodging was no more, my shoes bubbling and frothing. Cracking. Choosing not the get a drink at the water stations, my mustache is at the pinnacle of quality hydration research, at this moment in time. Managing to clock the first 5k in 16:56. Giving me something around 34 minutes for the race, potentially. With it being hillier in the 2nd half, it’ll be a push! Another quick split, 5:19. Not bad, but with work to do as we looped back and around on Chevet lane towards Notton and Old Royston. Also in my eyes the most difficult climb on the route up and towards The Oliver Twist. Time to grind out the distance. With the other lad in 4th from Wakefield falling away, pacing became a true grind. Pushing onwards and upwards, literally. Just keeping moving forwards, spotting various marshalls, who are wetter than me. Many a familiar face and shouts for a split second as I pass. Many people hate the finish at the Barnsley 10k, as you cross the Barnsley Boundary again and climb up Station Road from the bend. I love the finish here, it reality its not a massive climb, but at race pace. It is horrible! Telling myself as I approached the bend, 2 minutes of hardwork and then its all downhill from there!
Working and pushing myself up the climb. Knowing the finish is just over the hill and not so far away! Not a clue myself during or before the race what my actual course PB here is. Hoping that I can do the best I absolutely can, whatever it may be. To beat it! Completely blind to the facts. I held my gear and held on.
I crossed the line in 3rd place:
On my watch. Immediately come to a stop. Got a drink, looked for some pennies on the floor according to Keith Binney and got some layers on. Wet and getting cold. To turn and watch a few people cross the line. Before making my way inside and getting a dry t shirt and started chatting as people made their way inside looking for a little bit of warmth. Talking about various successes, challenges and future goals. I hung around for a while, to collect a few prizes for the lads from Penistone, Matt Robinson, Shaun Dimelow and Scott Hinchcliffe, of course, Julia Johnson scooped up a prize as well. We narrowly by 1 point missed out on the Team Prize to Wakefield, who had runners in 2/4/6. With Gary Briscoe completing our team, showing hard work really does work! As well as Scott smashing it as ever and coming 1st! Turns out as well, it’s a 1 minute 26 second PB on the course for me! Made my way home on foot, slightly colder and wet for a steady 8 mile with a small detour.
A cracking local race, December is going to be full of them! Next year, the Barnsley 10k, might be slightly different, who knows, due to Mark Hurrell stepping down from organisation. Whatever it is, it’ll still be a cracking local race.
Just Keep Running!