The best thing about offering someone a lift to a race is that when the alarm goes off at 5AM, you can’t just think, sod it, I’m going back to sleep. You’ve just got to haul yourself out of bed and try and get excited about whatever it was you entered a week ago that seemed like a good idea at the time. A few cups of coffee later with sun shining with Narnian promise I picked up Till and we were soon trundling down the M1. While chatting about Garmins, GPS, Satnavs and navigation in general, we sailed past the Scotch Corner turn-off, deftly picking up the Catterick one instead.
My Satnav was nonplussed at the road closure that greeted us a few miles later, but that issue resolved, it was plain sailing to Leyburn. It was during another GPS chat that, ironically, my Satnav chirpily announced “You have arrived at your destination, your destination is on the right.”. Apparently we’d arrived.
We looked around for other runners, of which there were none. No boots, no lekis, no rucksacks. Just a deserted town square. We consulted our maps, paper and digital, and discovered that registration was somewhere back that way. We retraced our route and soon found the large bright signs for the Rotary Club of Wensleydale.
Registration took no time at all and Till went over to examine the maps and check his route. I was pretty sure the run advertised itself as well marshalled and signed, and the rotary gadgie said there were little red arrows to follow, which was good enough for me. He also said there’d be a hot dog stand at the half-way checkpoint – oh yes, ha ha, very droll.
With plenty of time to spare we nipped back to the car for coffee and kit chat. I was beginning to regret not bringing shorts as it was beginning to look like being a scorcher, at least, compared to the recent weather. As we headed for the Start I handed Till my spare car key just in case, you know, he happened to get back before me.
The mass start of walkers and runners clattered out of town in a jumble of Lekis, bumbags and rucksacks. The sun and some daffodils were out and it was looking like being a good day. Before long runners thinned out and I jogged on in a world of my own following the frequent little red arrows indicating the route of the Wensleydale Wander. At the half-way checkpoint there it was, sure enough, the hot dog stand. With onions, and nippy sauce too. Lovely. I scoffed it down and jogged on, hoping I wouldn’t be seeing my hot dog again before the finish.
Having comfortably finished the far tougher Cleveland Survival a few weeks earlier I was, frankly, expecting today to be a bit of a breeze. But as the final miles wound down I really began to feel the distance. The little red arrows just kept on appearing, without end. Finally, after a robust little climb back into Leyburn it was a short jog back to the finish at registration. Not before I had to ask a couple of walkers if I was going the correct way, as I realised I hadn’t actually bothered to check where the finish was and the red arrows had, finally, stopped.
Walking into the dining hall I discovered Till had showered, changed, eaten, and probably regretted not bringing that book to read that I’d suggested. Till finished pretty much dead on 3 hours, third overall on the long course, just beating me by a slim margin of 1hr25m. I had some food and drank lots of tea, and for some time sat in dazed mystification at how this ‘easy’, flattish run had managed to be so much tougher than the same distance Cleveland Survival. I’ll never understand racing.Download file for GPS