It would be a different one this time. After Berlin being a solo weekend, and Loch Ness was a family affair with my brother, this would be a team weekend with International Running Coach Baz Tavener, PB girl Kaya, Jenni, Emma Longfellow and Laura Robbo descending on a town that can boast:
- Shed 7 as a favourite band
- Frankie Howerd, Mark Addy and David Bradley as famous sons
- The largest gothic cathedral in the world
- The largest train museum in the world
- A Viking centre
- Ancient walls still circling a majority of the city
- The Shambles, a cobbled shopping street and inspiration for Diagon Alley from Harry Potter
And I would be changing the kit again. An evolution if you like. In Berlin I wore a tee under a vest, I had to stop and lose that as I was burning up. I lost the calf sleeves, cap and knee support too, dumping them all in a fortuitously positioned charity clothes bin. I also wore my nutrition belt (for phone, Vaseline, headphones and gels) and the gel wrappers cut my stomach up.
At Loch Ness I dumped the vest that was under my tee. I carried calf sleeves on the nutrition belt to stop the gels cutting me again, and a knee support flapping around my ankle. And at both races I wore my new comfy New Balance that are wide (4E), but give me a blister on the instep of my left foot.
For Yorkshire I would wear a t-shirt, no vest. So no need to strip. Calf sleeves stayed on the belt in case needed, but I had swapped the scratchy gels for spongey Shot Bloks. New shorts from Saysky with a decent sized pocket, lessening what I needed in the belt. I put a Compede over the blister still remaining from Loch Ness, and vowed to drink less water, and it has made me sick the last two marathons.
The easiest of the three here too, a short walk from the very comfy B&B to the university, where I knew the Race HQ and bag drop was the far end of campus, a hike from the start/finish. Loch Ness you needed to catch a 7:15 coach around the loch. Berlin the bag drop was 20 mins from the hotel, behind the Reichstag, whilst the start was just along from the Brandenburg Gate.
After an average Italian meal the night before I hadn’t eaten before the race. I never really do, and I had Shot Bloks on the belt and Squashies in the belt. Both would be snacked upon on the way around.
The race started with the sub 2:30 runners, then a self-positioned en masse start. I stayed well back between the 4:30 and 5:30 pacers (including Emma) and then just kept a comfy steady pace, as we left the campus and ran down the hill and toward the city. Through the first city gate, seeing a cheering Jenni on the way (as Baz and Kaya would be running the 10 miler a few hours later). The cobbled streets of York then greeted us, along with the only real crowds of the day.
York is a popular tourist city, so there were a lot of people trying to cross the road ahead of us. But we persisted, around York Minster, and then heading out of the city for the rest of the race, through tiny country villages made up of a string of terraced houses, and a shop of they were lucky, maybe a gas station, or a post office.
It was windy out there too, mostly flat and I fell into a comfy pace. My plan, much like any race, was a comfy run, drink at every second stop for the first half then every water stop for the second half, drop to a run walk when tired and then, when all around me were trudging it in at the end, to join the long march, the Walking Dead hoard. And that was it really.
I ran with Emma for a while, having a chat. I know, I know, that if your running is at a level where you can maintain a conversation that you aren’t putting enough effort in, but I didn’t care. I had made a decision. I decided, after 3 in 4 weeks, as the wind howled around us, so noisy that I could barely hear the music playing through my earbuds, that I would knock the road marathons on the head. I would do one or at max 2 a year, and train for them. One in the Spring, one in the Autumn. I only had the New York City Marathon in my calendar, and that would be 13 months away. In the meantime I would enjoy the comfy, relaxed atmosphere of trail races.
Tommy the T-Rex
He deserves his own section in this blog. Tom was running in one of those inflatable T-Rex costumes. You know the one.
He was a young guy. And he was around me much of the time at the start. When we got out of the city and I chatted with Emma, I noticed he was constantly stepping his tail. And then, about half an hour later the seams tore on the tail and the costume deflated as he ran along. The formerly bouncy, inflated T-Rex was going down and soon I caught sight of him trying to run. The bouncy dinosaur head was no longer wobbling happily from side to side. It was now a large brown pancake sitting on Tom’s head, and the whole costume was nearly flat. It was a sad sight, truth be told. And then it was over, a miserable finish for the dinosaur, that has showed so much promise at the start of the race. A metaphor, if possible, for the Jurassic Park movies that started so well, and then ultimately died a death. Just not on the side of a country lane just outside York, being peeled off by a young charity runner so he could continue with his race.
I do despise them. My running groups on WhatsApp are keen followers of Marathon Investigator [link] and we often end up looking up splits and questionable results of races we have done. There are notorious races for cheating. The Mexico City marathon one year had thousands disqualified for cutting the course, even catching the subway en masse to do so. London has a lot of cheats where you come off Tower Bridge and then start the there part of the there and back to Isle of Dogs. Manchester too, has a reputation for cheats, with its long there and backs. But there are timing mats to catch such things.
There is no excuse for missing a timing mat. At Beachy Head last time out, where it was two laps, there was a timing mat the start of the second lap. I saw people, before they got to the mat, as they didn’t know it was there, debating cutting the course, and heading back toward the start. Only for the timing mat to be around the hedge.
I hate it so much that even at Vienna 2018 when I had no timing chip in my race bag and they never gave me one, that I ran the whole course, over all the mats, and even retained my Garmin time and map for them to add me to the results, and the finish line photo. And that is the Vienna marathon part of my 100 Marathon club submission. I was there, I didn’t cheat. Here is my profoundly average time.
A lot of races just put down timing mats at the start and finish, some start/finish then every 10K. What that means is that cheats can cheat. If they know there is a mat a specific distance away and there is a long there and back between then and now, they can just nip over and the organisers are none the wiser.
What you need is a timing mat at the end of each turnaround point, and that is exactly what Yorkshire Marathon did. They had a mat at the start/finish, every 10K, and then at the furthest most point of each of the two long there and backs. It means, with no exception, that if you did not cross those two mats, you cheated.
Back to the Race
After the long there and back, that led into the other long there and back, after making that last turn it was a slog to 22 miles and then a turn back toward the city. I had dropped to a walk now, I could feel a blister forming on the blister that hadn’t healed in the last fortnight, but the rest of me was fine. And I was a bit buoyant knowing I had binned road marathons for over a year.
It meant I was happy to re-enter the city, and walk the suburban streets, before the hill climb to the university and then running the whole of the final straight, smiling so much the Emcee stated as such over the PA system. And this is Darren Smith, running to the finish, and look at the smile on his face.
And I was done. 100 Marathon Club number 76. 11th of 2022. 3rd in 4 weeks. 2nd Yorkshire marathon. Bosh. Completed it, mate.
The Yorkshire Marathon is alright. I wouldn’t say it is any better than a lot of similar marathons. It is about on par with Hull and Chester, it isn’t as good as Manchester or Brighton, and it is no way as picturesque as Loch Ness. Still it is alright. I am glad I did it.
Would I recommend the Yorkshire Marathon? YES
Would I run the Yorkshire Marathon again? NO