Number 4, the fourth time out here on the Gilberdyke course, as 10 milers go. It’s one of the best, it’s well organised, it’s friendly, it’s simple, it’s flat and lends itself to fast time. The only downside today, the heat, that would be it! The race begun for me on Saturday, the realisation after Parkrun that I was suffering largely from dehydration and exhaustion. Struggling my ass around the hills of Barnsley. Getting home, necking 3 pints… of water. Salt on my skin and all that was in my blood. Continuing in the same quantity of water for the rest of the day. Hoping I’d have taken enough on board for the race on Sunday. Typically me and the heat don’t cope well at all. Much prefer the rain and cooler temperatures for running, I’m sure anyone does!
Anyway onto Gilberdyke, set in the flat country, if the see level was to rise I’m sure it would be no more around here. It’s flat, no hills in sight, sort of stuff. Can’t imagine the fell running scene is big in this neck of the woods. The race itself first caught my eye in 2016, searching for a flat 10 miler to have a crack at. With my only other flat 10 miler prior to that being my 60:48 performance at the Vale of York, the only time I’ve raced that course in fact! I went into the race in 2016 with the intention of breaking the 1 hour barrier, significant like the 40 minute 10k barrier or the 20 minute 5k barrier or even the 3 hour marathon. An hurdle that needed knocking down. I came away front the race in 2016, with a time of 59:55, taking 6th place. Not bad and my goal was complete, I’d go on later in the year to beat it at Preston, around November time.
2017, I was back again, in better shape and better form. This time, the goal was to PB, PB was sitting at 58:27 from my Preston effort. That I did, I ran well and ran comfortable, if I remember rightly, clocking myself a 57:19 for 3rd Place. Not bad and I had now set the stall for every 10 mile race, hopefully to try and follow! It was a no brainer when entry opened for the 2018 race, of course I’d be back and willing to have a go. Form was just starting to return in approach to the autumn marathon season, it was creeping and ready to go. I was confident at the time for a PB, the aim was 5:30 minute mile pace or die trying. I held on for the majority of the race, running shoulders with some early ‘idols’ when I first entered the running scene. 55:31, taking 4th Place. A Personal Best and the marker had been pushed a little bit higher. I would later beat that time at the competitive Thirsk 10, clocking 54:21, again for 4th Place.
So here I am, back again, 2019. Recently running a course personal best at the surprisingly slower Askern 10 miler, pushing the best on that course up by over a minute. I’d be confident given the right conditions that I would run a much faster time here at Gilberdyke, but unfortunately the heat. The heat will play a card today, a card, I hope that I can work with. I set off around 8 ish, straight up the M1 onto the M62 and pretty much there. Getting there just after 9, every year, I’d love more and more Barnsley based runners to have a crack at this race. This year, there is a few more than the last few years. With Josh Bird, Stuart Wilson, Alan Ford, Rich Spooner and Thomas Lawcock spotted as I went to get my number. Andrew Pearson later spotted, I believe the only other Penistone runner out on the course today. However plenty of other recognisable faces, that are attracted to these events week after week. Faces I’ve grown to know through putting one foot in front of the other. Faces I’ve met in fields, toilet queues, number queues, start lines, finish lines or somewhere around mile 2 (just when your pace begins to settle and you might find it ok to talk). Fantastic to see so many. Got my number, back to the car, pinned it on my vest and went for a jog. Legs feeling fresher than yesterday, but still on the tight side. The days will come when the freshness returns completely, I know it! 2.5 mile later, back at the car. Racing vest on, racing shoes on, chip timing strip on. Off to the start area. The Barnsley gang had commandeered our own section of the car park. Never far from home! Chatting away, mainly about the heat. It had begun to push mid 20’s, white baseball caps were out for many, water dripping from heads, bodies soaked in sun cream. Me on the other hand, I had gone old school. No sun cream, hopefully sweat will do that job, no hat; just shorts and a vest. I might regret it later, but thankfully my Penistone vest is white…. Extra water stations had been put on the route in reaction to the heat. Strong words of advice were laid out from the marshals. Then we went towards and toe’d the line. Matthew Hallam from Valley Striders, somewhere to my left, Rich Spooner and Alan Ford from Barnsley Harriers, Steve Melber, still unattached… I knew on their day, they’re all class runners. But part of me was thinking, this could turn into a bit of a time trial for us all… with easily 20-30 seconds between our capable times.
The countdown begun, and we were off, straight over the line and I kicked pushing myself an early lead, possibly setting off a little too quick. Hopefully as far as the race goes, it’ll account for fade later in the race, from the heat! Out of the hustle of the Race HQ and up and over the only bridge or hill on the course. Into the scenic industrial estate and mile 1 was done. I was out on my own, glanced at the watch and then glanced ahead at the rear of the van. Looking for distractions.. so I tried to memorise the van hire logo and number.
Car & Van Hire
I don’t think I did too bad. Too early to be getting distracted, started looking for shade, predicting the suns direction and aiming for the shelter of the trees. Banking some shade time for later in the race, slight headwind at this point. Lending itself to a tailwind later on. Not good. Moving onwards and forwards. First water station came what felt like early, but in actual fact it was mile 3, ish. Pace had begun to settle, but I knew that a personal best time would be a massive ask today. The heat was playing a part, I wasn’t struggling but the air felt thick. It didn’t feel efficient. I said to myself, one more mile and I’ll decide how to play it, if I could be the right side of 5:30’s for that mile, I’d continue in the same mentality. I begun to back off the pace anyway, hitting the wrong side of 5:30 pace for the last few 400’s. I went through the water station, splashed it on my face, whilst aiming for my mouth. Then carried on. My 400 splits then went as followed, 1:24, 1:22, 1:24, 1:24. A bit of a struggle and a bit of a drag. 1:22 was where I wanted to be at. But today wasn’t to be. I backed off and had a word with myself. Now it was a case of run to feel and run to comfort. A PB was drifting away. The mirages that presented themselves out in front were never getting closer, looking for the junctions, the landmarks. The turns that meant we were ever so slightly closer to home. Another day. The turn eventually was made, a shout from the marshal’s signalling my position and rough estimate of distance behind. An educated guess would be the Harriers gang, Matt Hallam or Steve. Making my way now through the villages, more shelter and momentarily more shade. Hosepipes for the slight relief. A few tractors pulling out in front and making things, interesting! It made the next turn arrive a little quicker. Then came the wobble, the point in the race when things are so near, but so far! Things are just out in front, but not in reach. Spotting the tree lines and using the power of imagery, placing myself running near them. Only to realise I’m nowhere near. Gilberdyke is somewhere up there. Pace had began to drop to steady 5:40’s. Sweat had begun to weigh down my vest, hair was slicked back, with sweat. Everywhere there was just sweat. Water intake the most important thing. On the home straight, knowing that there is another one of those hill things coming up. Looking for a glimmer of hope, the 9 mile marker was there. The Fit Mums supporters on the course in the form of Dad’s. Up and over the bridge, 800m to go. 2 and half minutes of pain left to endure. 600m to go, 400m. Counting them off, making the turn left alongside the car park, and then 200m to go. I’m sure there would be plenty of wobbles at this point today. Following the road around, missing the 56 minute marker and clocking.
Immediately finding shade away from the sun, unfortunately not from the heat. Plenty of water as I watched everyone struggle across the line. Free flapjack and then back to the car, different shoes on and went for a ‘cool down’ bumping into Phil Tyas in the process who was out here competing in a 10 mile cycle race, you’re never far from home! Team Barnsley had a bit of a rampage in the top 5, with Rich and Alan taking 3rd and 4th respectively!
Not a Personal Best about a minute and half off, about 30 seconds off a course Personal Best. Although the time isn’t what I wanted, it’s a gentle reminder of what running is, what the heat can do to your body when under prepared and most importantly, it’s all training, training towards the bigger picture. The end goal. The dream.
Just Keep Running!