Last year at the Yorkshire Wolds Half I was a DNS for the most random of reasons. I’d had a wisdom tooth removed with a general anaesthetic the weekend before and thought I’d be over it in time; but when I went for an experimental jog a couple of days before it I felt dizzy after about 30 seconds, so thought I’d better give it a miss. I was gutted, as I really wanted the handmade pottery mug given out at the end!
Fast forward a year and I’d signed up for the Wolds again, thinking it would be a great marathon training exercise. The event is part of Bishop Wilton Show, starting and finishing at the showground. This is on a farm some way outside the village of Bishop Wilton, with a very civilised starting time of 10 am. Traffic was well managed, and I got parked up really easily. Online entry to the race was £15, including free admission to the show, but it was also possible to enter on the day by paying to get into the show and then getting the cost of that knocked off your race entrance fee.
I had a little wander round the showground whilst waiting for the off. It was a beautiful, sunny day. A bit warmer than I’d like for running, but a great day for a country show! I was well impressed with the very posh Portaloos and had two wees before kick-off just to make the most of them. As we lined up at the start I noticed that a) there weren’t that many of us and b) most of the other runners were very skinny and wearing club vests. So this is obviously an event that attracts mostly serious rather than fun runners! I began to wonder if I’d actually be last, then spotted a few other less elite-looking people and felt a bit less apprehensive.
The course is an undulating route through the local countryside, with some stunning views along the way. It’s mostly on road, apart from a couple of miles near the start, which is on decent trail, so road shoes are best. The first half seemed to have quite a bit of downhill, with some gentle undulations, and the hard work really began in the second half. The route is well-marshalled, so you can’t get lost, and there were five water points. As the temperature rose and the sun beat down on us we were really grateful for the sponges on offer too! All the helpers were really lovely and encouraging. There wasn’t much else in the way of support – it’s more about enjoying the countryside than being cheered on by crowds – but that wasn’t a problem for me.
I found the second half of the course quite hard, but then I’m not that used to running up big hills. The hot weather didn’t make things any easier though, and I certainly wasn’t the only one taking short walk breaks towards the end. There’s a lot of uphill in the last few miles, although it does level out a bit near the finish. I had a few nice little chats with other runners along the way and really enjoyed it, despite the toughness. My PB in a flat road half is just under 1:50, but my time here was 2:08, so that gives an idea of the extra effort involved! There was no chip timing, but the official time I was given agreed with my Garmin, so that was fine. In the end I came 102nd out of 152 (so few!) and I was happy with that considering the quality of the field. Typically, the sun went in as soon as we’d finished! The souvenir mug makes a nice change from the usual t-shirts and medals and complements the ones I have from the Snake Lane 10.
All in all I thought this was a brilliant event; well-organised, great value at £15, and a challenging course with beautiful views to distract you from the pain. I can’t imagine why it isn’t more popular. Plus afterwards at the show you can get burgers, sausages, pies, cake, ice cream and beer, then go and pet some very impressive fancy sheep. What more could you possibly want? I’ll definitely be back next year!