Burn Valley Half Marathon

I’m still relatively new to running and so every race brings something unexpected and lessons to be learnt. This was my first wet-weather race and by the time we’d walked from the car park to the start everyone was soaked through. I was warm, clammy and uncomfortable, and I hadn’t run a step. I had a sense of foreboding that leaving the Lanacane at home was a bad idea.

I’d read Dave’s report from last year and studied the route so had a pretty good idea what to expect. (I find the old race reports very useful and always check them out before running a new race.) The bunch left the market square and I instantly spotted the stonewashed running vest of Alan Purvis, and we ran the first mile together discussing the course and how bored our wives would be while we were away, perhaps sitting in a nice DRY tea shop in the town.

The course is described as hilly, and so it is. It undulates outwards and upwards for about 6 miles, and then it undulates backwards and downwards back to the finish, overlapping some of the outward route. Sometimes it undulates quite considerably and provides a fascinating study in biomechanics and the different shapes of runners. I found I wasn’t a strider, but a climber. I would pass people on the climbs, only to be passed a few minutes later by the same runners as they strode past me on the descents. Some of the descents were just a little too steep to ‘let go’ completely and I could feel the thumping on my upper thighs as I tried to balance speed against stability.

On the subject of thighs, by the end of the race the insides were rubbed raw, a sort of sandpaper pink, and a lesson was learnt. And it stung like a bee when I stepped into the shower a few hours later. I’m already considering the ‘Shaun Roberts look’ and getting myself a pair of long shorts to wear under my short shorts.

Alan wasn’t the first person to approach the finish and ask the crowd where it was. The approach is clear enough but there was nothing as vulgar as a big banner proclaiming FINISH. It was discretely nestling in a bottleneck in the alley next to the school, and many weary runners ran optimistically rather than specifically in the direction of where they thought the finish must be.

This is one of my favourite races to date (although I’ve got my eye on the Chevy Chase for next year). With the varied terrain and hills it offers a complete body workout. It was quite atmospheric and broody with the mist lurking around the upper slopes. The crowd and marshals and support were all great with plenty of water stations and even a sponge stop.

Total distance: 21.13 km
Max elevation: 245 m
Min elevation: 84 m
Total climbing: 412 m
Total descent: -413 m
1Gary DunnThirsk & Sowerby Harriers1:14:33
10Jo WaitesF11:26:49
205Dougie NisbetM402:05:22
244Alan PurvisM702:18:25
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