Race Review – The Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon

The Preamble (To be read in the style of Sean Bean)

Typical Night Out in the West Riding

As I write this, I am absolutely bloody jiggered, but stay till end and you’ll see for why. I was in a Twitter DM group made up of the #UKRUNCHAT peeps who ran the Tatton Half when it was suggested that I should run in the North more often coz I spend all me time running with southern softies on the coast. Do I eckers like! Jokes about me actually living in the North West (NW3) were ignored and the Yorkshire Marathon was mentioned as a means of appeasement to the mob, prompting them to put down the torches and pitchforks, and so by ‘eck I signed up for pre-registration at time with the race opening next day.

Typical North of the Watford Gap Running Attire

(Back to your normal inner voice now)

As an aside I have actually enjoyed running in the North. I have run in Knutsford, Chester, Liverpool, Manchester, Hull most recently, Sheffield, and York before, as well as recent Parkrun Tourism in Durham. That seems to be a pretty good list considering I don’t drive and it takes 3 hours to get anywhere by train. But during this conversation this was ignored and from discussing options it quickly escalated to preregistration, and then signing up for the race, booking the hotel and the rest, as per always, is history.

Couple of things here. 1. There was a mahoosive DM group of people running, and those that were not running because of injuries and colds were coming down/up/ east or west to cheer us on. 2. All this is a fortnight after Hull Marathon where I was the ladies love Milk Tray guy, the Man in Black, and ninjad most of the race photos (when we finally got to see them), and so I decided to brighten things up and wear yellow, including the very worthwhile #helloyellow buff from Red Squirrel Running supporting Young Minds for World Mental Health Day.

But, for all of those who haven’t been paying attention, there was one small problem. I have a cold. I had spent the last few days in a cabin in the Blackwood Forest running trails and a snotty nose developed into post nasal drip, sore throat, burny eyes and back ache and before too long I am the posterboy for Man Flu with a minor exception – that I will still run the fucking thing as long as it isn’t on my lungs. That is my golden rule – above the chest ok to run, and it will probably decongest me anyway, below the neck and am bailing.

Was it on my chest for the race? My maranoia says yes but as I write this a few days later, the rest of me says no because now I am coughing up a lung. And I can thank this booty for delaying it enough to race.

The Not So Tweet Ups

Full of lurgy is not ideal when you are about to run a marathon. Not when you are surrounded by people who are about to do it too, and DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT want your germs.  To a point of even keeping a polite distance when meeting you.

You know what I’m saying, dog

And so, with a few twists, turns, miscommunication and distinct lack of serendipity I missed seeing virtually all the 23 strong Twitter DM group of people other than Jen, Lewis, Caroline, Jo and hubby and Helen for the briefest of drinks, David near the bag drop, Caroline again and Chris Barnes resplendent in his UKRUNCHAT race vest but no one else. At the end? No one again. Did I just ghost the Yorkshire Marathon? I think so.

Knew I’d get a whippet in somehow

The Start

Before I get to the route, the race starts and finishes at the university about a half hour walk from the City centre. I do not really have a problem with this, but as we reached what was the start/finish line at one end of the campus, it was not abundantly clear where anything else was (bag drop/toilets/race HQ) and precious few marshals were around to assist.

In the end what happened was we had to traverse the whole campus to get to the bag drop, through buildings, across bridges, avoiding goose shit (it was everywhere) and then back again to the start. The reason why, is that the organisers had put on shuttle buses from the train station to the race HQ end of campus. So maybe less thought went into signage to help those coming the other way.

There was also a 10 miler going on the same day and starting a little later which meant, unfortunately as I waited for Jen who had joined a toilet queue, that with the 10 milers in the queue ahead and no tannoy allowing the marathoners to be allowed to the front (as they did at the Two Tunnels) we missed the start of zone 2 and somehow joined the 5 hours and above zone 5 runners.

The Route

You start and then turn down a hill, a pretty steep one for a hundred yards or so. Remember the hill, I was told, as you have to run up that on the way back. It didn’t seem too much of an elevation to me, especially given recent races, but then again, I was only just starting, after 26 miles it could be as tall as Everest, or at least seem so.

You turn back into town, go by York Minster cathedral before Mile 2, and then along cobbled streets, by my hotel, and then out and by 10K you are already in the exurbs and heading into the country. The route being a daisy chain of small villages linked by quiet, hedgerow lined country lanes.

It was all very familiar. When you take the landmarks out of a race and you are running the streets, and the country lanes between villages, it could be anywhere. I remember Copenhagen feeling like a mixture of Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Berlin and Dublin as I ran it. Yorkshire, for me, or York and it’s surrounding areas, felt very much like the Chester Metric Marathon I ran last year.

The Nose Knows No End

Despite plodding on quite nicely to a very comfy sub hour 10K, and a half marathon time that could still mean a marathon PB if I kept going at that clip, the Day Nurse and First Defence taken and squirted up my nose was wearing off and someone had turned on the tap because my nose was running.

So much mucus


Half Way To Happiness!

Something else, as well as runny nose were bloody nips. Already? I had vaselined myself first thing, but it wears off, rubs off, and before long my bright yellow vest was adorned with two red roses of blood. Hold on, that’s Lancashire isn’t it? Yorkshire is the white rose.  Fortunately, with 5K water stops, also having ASDA isotonic water, High 5 gels, I had plenty of opportunity to see a medic, and grab not one but two globs of Vaseline to stem the flow and stop the yellow vest turning into a… well, a bit of a horror show…

Nipple guards next time, methinks

Cold, sniffing now as the nose would not stop, sore nips that I was quite paranoid about running with my hands covering them to spare the onlookers, my left knee started feeling a little crunchy for the first time since Comrades. It made me start to worry and so I slowed my pace as I reached the most painful THERE AND BACK, again, one very similar to Chester. A long there (couple of miles), then back, with a turn off on the back that sent us back towards town and the finish.

I was aware that I was comfortably on for a sub-5 and faster than Hull but with the aforementioned wheels coming off, too much water in my belly making me want to throw up, and the dreaded wall to come I adopted the same ploy as I did at Hull to get through. I would walk once my Polar buzzed to say I had reached a KM, for a count and then I would run until the next buzz. At Hull I adopted a 100 count, as I wanted to do better here I adopted a 50 count, then a run. This equated to a 150M walk and a 850M run for the rest of the race, or until the final hill, you know, that one I said didn’t seem too steep, and two finishes. Yes, you read that right, two finishes. Once you reached the brow of the hill you saw a blue inflatable arch. It is the finish you scream but, as you get closer to it you it becomes blatantly obvious that this is not a finish at all. In fact, on the other side, it tells you that you still have 400 yards to go, so keep running, running, running, running!
Oh yeah, whilst I did enjoy running the Hull Marathon and experiencing all the sounds without headphones in, for Yorkshire, I deployed ALL THE TUNES. And, as I reached that first demoralizing arch, Runnin’ by Naughty Boy kicked in. BOOM! TUNE!!! I kicked up the pace, flying feet all the way, a flash in yellow, taking the left around the final roundabout, crowds both sides, camera peeps capturing the moment and then… to finish off BEASTIE BOYS – SABOTAGE. TUNE 2!!! as I high 5’d all the kids near the finish.
Colour removed to mask nipple carnage
And I was over the finish line to finish my 8th marathon of the year, my 14th marathon in total, collect my medal and a pint of Erdinger (cirque de so lame), limp across campus again to bag drop and then join what would be a total disaster with the buses back to town. With the race closing most roads the buses, all double deckers, took backstreets with parked cars on both sides.
The jams they caused, the constant stopping and starting, my cough, and the rising temperature caused by a bus full of post marathon runners made me feel very ill and, with the chance of me throwing up 4 hours and 48 minutes of water, alcohol free beer, orange segments, mint creams and Asda own label isotonic drink all over the bus, I decided to get off and walk back to town.

The Bling

The day before the race I was talking to the #UKRUNCHAT supremo Jenni Morris about the race booklet. She looked at the back of the booklet and there was a cool design. She said, that would be a cool medal design with the Viking hat and sun rays and lo and behold. (Note: We do realise Vikings didn’t have horns on their helmets but it is pretty regardless). We also got a pretty nice tee as well. Although, much to the chagrin of Miss Morris, it is not bright pink.

In Summary

For Hull the tag line was “Be part of the story”.  For Yorkshire they used “Forget the miles remember the journey.” And I think I may. The THERE AND BACK was probably what stood out most for me, that and the finish line. The rest has already been blended with my years of racing and to be honest the 50 count to the KM buzz with the TUNES, the cold and the knee pain has taken all the other memories away. So I have forgotten those miles, but not the journey to my 8th Marathon of the year, part of my 12 in 12 for Pancreatic Cancer UK.

WOULD I RECOMMEND THE YORKSHIRE MARATHON? YES, I WOULD. It was a very well supported race, a BIG UK marathon, one of the biggest and I am very glad I ran it.

WOULD I RUN THE YORKSHIRE MARATHON AGAIN? No. Only as I have others to tick off before I run any for a second time.

Listen to the 100 Marathon Club podcast here

Next Up:

The Swiss City Marathon, Lucerne


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