PlusNet Yorkshire Marathon

October 12, 2014

Tim Broomfield

Tim Broomfield

The second running of the PlusNet Yorkshire Marathon was an unqualified success and it looks like this event will now become a permanent fixture on the local race calendar – A total prize pot of £12,000 was up for grabs and first across the finish line was Boniface Kongin, from Kenya, in a time of 2:13:59 – just 28 seconds slower than last year’s inaugural winner.   Harrogate Harriers despatched a good contingent of runners to make our mark and of course we didn’t disappoint:  Tim Broomfield (making somewhat of a return to marathon running after a long lay-off) put in a fine, evenly paced effort to finish in 3.25.32, while our first lady was Nicola Gray in 4:12:15.

Tim reports that getting to the race start was very well organised and that the route goes through the City Centre and past the Minster, before going onwards to Sand Hutton, Stamford Bridge and Osbaldwick.  It seems to be very well supported with water every three miles and energy drink/gel points enroute.  And of course, it’s very flat thereabouts so it lends itself to fast running – there are actually two out-and-back sections that impact on the course a little, but for a city marathon that’s expected.   The only complaint that Tim has is in regard to the T-Shirt – apparently it’s got a “bit too much pink in it”.  I know what he means.

For some it was their first marathon and the experience was a good one.  Edward Hardcastle ran a great race to dip under the 4-hour barrier and complete in 3:52:03.  He has taken the trouble to write an account of his race, please find it at the following link – well done Edward!


Ben working hard at the Langdale (Grand Day Out Photography)

Ben working hard at the Langdale Horseshoe
(Grand Day Out Photography)

In recent years you would have been lucky to see a single Harriers vest at any of the big Lake District fell races, however off-road running is becoming more and more popular within the club and it’s perhaps no surprise that there was a strong Harrogate showing for the last of the season’s Lakeland Classic fell races, the Langdale Horseshoe.  This famous event starts at the head of Great Langdale and follows a  very tough 13-mile route (with an eye-popping 5,000ft of climb) up Stickle Ghyll and around Stickle Tarn before crossing the notoriously boggy Martcrag Moor and a long climb up past Angle Tarn to Esk Hause Shelter, then onwards to the mighty Bowfell and the tortuous Crinkle Crags and Wainwright’s “Bad Step”.  As if this wasn’t enough, this is followed by a further long climb to the summit of Pike O’Blisco before a frantic descent back down to Langdale!

Seven Harrogate Harriers made the journey to Cumbria and represented the club very well, despite difficult, slippy conditions that resulted in several serious accidents and three seperate Mountain Rescue call-outs:  Our fell-running mentor and 2014 MV65 English FRA champion Ben Grant celebrated a terrific return to form with a superb time of 2:52:06, easily taking  the category win.  Good performances also from Steve Fry, David Fountain, Phil Birch, Martyn Price and Tim Palmer.   Our only lady entrant was Helen Price and she continued her recent good form with a course PB of 3:18:10 and 3rd LV40 and 6th place overall – an excellent result in a very strong field.  Well done to all!


Martyn crosses the UTMB finish line in Chamonix

105 miles done! Martyn crosses the UTMB finish line in Chamonix (click to enlarge)

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) is a 105-mile trail event that starts in the mountain resort of Chamonix and follows an incredibly arduous route around the Mont-Blanc massif, taking in no less than 31,800ft of vertical ascent and crossing the frontiers of France, Italy and Switzerland.  It is one of the toughest and most over-subscribed endurance events in the world, attracting entrants from all corners of the globe; for this reason potential entrants have to amass qualifying points in order to apply for a place, and even then you only have a one in seven chance of being selected in the ensuing ballot!

At the Courmayeur CP, Italy.

At the Courmayeur CP, Italy.

Martyn Price was fortunate enough to be selected for the 2014 race – the first club member to compete in the UTMB – and at 5.30pm on Friday 29th August set off on what was to become a momentous experience. The first five hours were marred by heavy rain, making the earlier part of the race treacherously slippy and hard to negotiate – and the climbs are huge, the cols typically rising to over 8,000ft.  Martyn steadily progressed through the field, making up over 700 places during the course of the race and overcoming severe physical discomfort, to say nothing of the fabled UTMB “sleep monsters” (hallucinations) due to sleep depravation.  He eventually finished the race in 41:19:39, placing him 811th overall and and 109th in his age category – not bad from an international starting field of 2,400 runners, but  just 1,580 finishers!

For more info about the UTMB, please visit the event website or Martyn’s “The Road to Chamonix is Long” blog.

The Lakeland 50 is run simultaneously with the Lakeland 100 and begins in the grand setting of the 100’s halfway checkpoint at Dalemain House near Ullswater. Martyn and Helen Price, Rich Willis and Andy Holohan had entries for this incredibly tough race, all hoping that the Weather Gods would be kind following last year’s very hot conditions. This was a pivotal race in more ways that one: For Martyn it was his warm-up race for the forthcoming Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), while Helen has been having a great season and solidifying her reputation as an outstanding ultra-distance runner, meaning a good performance was essential. This was Andy’s first race after an extended period of injury and it was the first time that Rich had tackled a 50-miler – there was a lot at stake. This race was UK Athletics Ultra Distance Championship race, so (unsurprisingly) a lot of the UK’s best runners were gathered at the start.


Rich Willis on the long trail to Coniston ….. (Sports Sunday)

In the event, everyone’s hopes were dashed and it turned out to be a blisteringly hot day; all competitors had to battle dehydration as well as a complex and technical route. Helen lived up to expectations and ran a superb race among a very strong field, taking 90 minutes (!) off her 2013 time to finish in 10:45:31, 8th lady overall and 1st LV40. The hot conditions were always going to exact a toll on Martyn, but despite being limited by dehydration and its effects he managed to trim an hour off last year’s time to finish in 12:00:58 and 102nd position overall. Rich suffered in the heat and his pace was curtailed accordingly, nonetheless he put in a spirited performance to finish in 13:18:07 and 189th overall. Andy battled on bravely throughout the night, showing real resolve to finish the race in 18:48:49 and 470th overall.  Results