Vale of York Half Marathon – FIELD TRIP (7th September 2014)

You may, or may not be, perplexed as to why I have called this one ‘field trip’…we’ll get to that in due course.

There was a lot of debate as to whether the Vale of York Half Marathon was in York or Leeds. It turned out it was neither as it was based in Sherburn in Elmet. More specifically it was based at Sherburn in Elmet aerodrome.

And so, very early on a Sunday morning, The DH Runners were dispatched in three cars (two containing runners and one containing supporters) to head down the motorway for a 9:30 race start. It was actually going to be quite a busy day for The DH Runners as a few were also taking part in The Great North Run over in Newcastle.

There was plenty of banter on the way down as some fool decided to put the three wise men of DH Runners in the back together. Which resulted in this photo… (Don’t ask).


On arrival at the aerodrome it was a fair walk from the car park to the registration area. I was classing that as my warm up.

Once registered we had twenty minutes to get in the queue for the toilets before the race started in anger. We’d started queueing and were gradually making our way upwards in the queue when an official looking dude with a megaphone rocked up and said:

“If you make your way to the start area there are a lot more toilets and barely any queue.”

So, we started to make our way up to the start line. The barely any queue that was promised turned out to be a queue of well over 80 people and the lot more toilets that were promised were actually the same number as the ones we were just queueing for.


With the race about to start in the next five minutes there was only one option.

Run to the other end of the Aerodrome and have a number two on a small patch of grass that was just about out of view from everyone else.


Hence the post name – Field Trip…see, it all connects.
DH Runners have been turning feral a lot lately due to ‘Gingerbread Man’ issues (

Being a complete germophobe this did not put me in a great mood to be starting a run. Sadly one of my bandanas was sacrificed during this action. So if we can all just take a few minutes to mourn its loss that would be great.

red bandana

Having been injured over the past few weeks I was wearing a calf support on my left leg and some tape on my right knee. This run was all about seeing where I was fitness wise in the run up to Chester Marathon having missed a chunk of training.

9:30 on the dot and we were off.

race day face.

The first mile was a loop around the Aerodrome. By all accounts when I passed our supporters I looked shocking. Only a mile in and I was dripping with sweat and in pain to the point where they thought it wouldn’t be long before I was pulling up a chair with them in the café. To be honest, for those first couple of miles I thought the same. I’d set off way too fast pacing at 6:29 minute miling when the quickest I’d gone in recent weeks was 9:40 for a mile. Gradually I’d settled in to 7:45 minute miling and my first goal was to keep under 8 minutes for the first four miles.

I’d set myself a few of goals on the way:

Keep under 8 minute miling for the first four miles
Hit seven miles at around 1 hour 2 minutes.
Hit ten miles at around 1 hour 25 minutes.
Finish under two hours.

I wasn’t wearing music for this run. I’d decided this year that I wasn’t going to rely on music as much and had only worn it for two runs so far. I was trying to focus more on my breathing and getting my pace right.

The route itself was an out and back loop which looped around between six and eight miles and then back along the same route to the finish. It was a fairly warm day and by about three miles in I was absolutely drenched. ..even more so when I threw a bottle of water over myself to cool down.
I hit the four mile marker and I still hadn’t gone over my eight minute target so that was the first goal given a big tick.

It was around three miles when I first noticed the lady with the bum bag. She’d overtaken me on a hill and then sharply slowed down. It occurred to me that she’d expended quite a lot of energy to get past me and then slowed down for some reason. As I was keeping a consistent pace throughout I passed her again within a minute. This rigmarole carried on for the next five miles where she passed me around ten times before I dropped the hammer on a downhill at eight miles and put a fair bit of time into her and didn’t see her again. I’ve never got my head around people who knock their pan in to get past people and then slow right down.

At mile 8 I took my energy gel and still felt pretty good. I was still keeping my time around 8 minute miling and I was confident of getting in under two hours.

I hit mile 10 at 1:23:40 so I had made that target as well.

At mile 12 I was met by Paul and Wes who had both finished in 1:16:39 and 1:19:10 respectively. They started running beside me and I asked them to push me towards the end. Immediately my pace went from 8:45 minute miling to 6:20 minute miling. I wasn’t sure I could keep this up for a mile but I eventually settled at 7:04 minute miling for the rest of the way. I was surprised at how many people I passed in the final mile and I was grateful for the push towards the end.

finish strong

I finished in a respectable 1:52:08.

I was happy with this as I was returning from injury and it wasn’t that far from my personal best of 1:47:53 for a half marathon.

Kathryn mentioned later on that my run was a tale of two halves. The first photo was of me totally not enjoying the start of a race. The second was of me finishing strong having put in a fairly respectable performance.

Overall it was a great run and, with the exception of the initial toilet issues, was very well organised. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to do a run on a relatively flat course with great PB potential.

We all headed off to get some food…a lovely sausage, mash and peas in a giant yorkshire pudding for me.

On my return home my mind was now focused towards the English Half Marathon two weeks after. Could I put in a repeat performance…I hoped so.

Dream, Believe, Train, Achieve.


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