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  • Writer's pictureNews from Doug

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November especially the Birstwith Brute!

A popular race with our club members is the Guy Fawkes 10 miler which takes place every year around Bonfire Night. This year it coincided exactly with the 5th November. A great setting right next to Ripley Castle near Harrogate, it was a bit further afield than most of our events which usually take place around Easingwold, Thirsk and York.

It doesn’t always make it on to our club championship calendar mainly because it sells out so quickly. But making a welcome return this year, 18 ladies and 11 men managed to secure a place before it inevitably sold out.

At the start whilst most other running clubs were getting organised with their pre-race club photos, Easingwold was split into its natural three groups – the fast guys doing dynamic warm ups and stretches, the ladies queuing for the toilets and the rest of us trying to get our race number from the village hall about five minutes before the race started. Luckily some of the ladies were organised enough to get a photo at the end!

It was a lovely sunny day and a perfect temperature for running. Guy Fawkes himself even took time out from blowing up the Houses of Parliament to start the race off. The start was a bit frantic as it is quite narrow with faster runners trying to scramble past slower runners by running on the grass verges trying not to slip on the mud. Once we got onto the open roads, it calmed down a bit.

I had run this race once before about 12 years ago and remember it being very picturesque and that there was a hill involved somewhere that was a bit steep. Later on I realised that some sort of trauma had erased itself from my mind because there were at least seven hills and although a few of them were fairly manageable, three of them actually had been christened with names – the ‘Swinecliffe Swine’, ‘For Fawkes Sake’ and the toughest of all, the ‘Birstwith Brute’. Despite regularly practising hills on Tuesday and Thursday club nights, there is not much that can prepare you for this one, apart from perhaps some mountain climbing. Although it would be considered perfectly acceptable to walk this one, my mantra in races is to always try to keep running however steep the hill, only stopping to walk if I a) need to have a heart attack or b) throw up. Luckily despite my watch informing me I was only disappointingly running about 5 miles an hour, I managed to shuffle my way to the top without either.

Any runner will tell you that the downhill can be almost as tough as the uphill and even though your lungs will thank you, your legs won’t. So it’s important to maintain a sensible pace going down so as not to completely embarrass yourself by falling flat on your face whilst trying to make back some of the time you lost by running slowly uphill.

The organisation is fantastic with lots of marshalls signposting and cheering you on with a few locals offering encouragement and sweets. The run back up to Ripley Castle is a bit like a roller coaster, up and down whilst you madly try and race against the people trying to sprint past you at the finish.

I was pleased with my time which was just over 1 hour 25 and definitely about 5 minutes faster than I managed when I was 12 years younger which I’m taking as a small win.

For the club, Joe Dodsworth was the fastest male in 30th place with David Todd and Mark Clegg not far behind. Megan Remmer was the fastest female with Stephanie Cooper (new ladies club champion!) and Cheryl Murray second and third.

As a prize for finishing, we all got a nice long sleeved top plus a generous portion of chocolate bars, most of which I scoffed on the journey home which was justified after burning around 2,000 calories.

Definitely a race to add to your list whatever your ability. Although it might leave you a bit stiff in the morning, it is a great day out and one I would do again. Massive congratulation to everyone who ran it and see you all next year.

Doug Pearce

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