By Andrew Mellor

I’d never tried running a trail half marathon before. So for my first, what could be better than to try than one with spectacular views in the Yorkshire Dales? If you threw in a few hills and a bottle of beer at the end, I’d be completely sold. If this, like me, sounds like your thing, continue reading and let me tell you about this year’s Burnsall Half Marathon.

It’s the first race of the 2019 Due North Race Series, set in the stunning riverside location of Burnsall. It takes in several sections of the Dales Way footpath and provides some of the most beautiful scenery the Yorkshire Dales has to offer. It’s also quite hilly.

Six hardy Pumas arrived early ahead of the 10 am start to collect numbers and prepare for the challenging race ahead. The previous year’s event had seen some soaring temperatures, but this year was different. It was cold. Layering decisions became an issue immediately whilst waiting for the start but after a brief warm up around the field, we gathered with 208 other runners and were underway.

The start eased us in gently, looping around the field and then onto the path by the river. And then the first climb up Kail Hill. The route then continued uphill for what felt like forever until we reached the first welcome downhill near Trollers Gill at mile 3 (avoiding any confrontation with the fabled Barghest). Descending for the next few miles, through Skyreholme down to the river and then up into Appletreewick.

At mile 7 we were going vertical once more, providing a welcome opportunity to take on fluids and shed layers before climbing up towards Dibbles Bridge across some open, tough moorland and then up back up Langerton Hill. After some frankly ridiculous, un-runnable last climbs, we headed down towards Hebden, following the river and across the picturesque Burnsall Bridge to the finish.

The winner of the race finished in 1:27:20 and promptly claimed his prize and ran home to continue tending to his flock of sheep. Jude Roberts led the Pumas home in 15th position in an impressive 1:48:31. A sprint finish decided the 2nd and 3rd Pumas where I somehow crossed the line in 63rd with a time of 2:06:45, a single second ahead of Matt Newton in 64th with a time of 2:06:46 knocking 14 minutes off his 2018 time.

Kirsty Edwards finished in 73rd improving on last year with a time of 2:08:46 and was then delighted to be reunited with the gloves she’d reluctantly abandoned mid-way. And bringing us all home were Tiffany Lewis and Mark Kirkby, nipping under the 3 hour mark in 2:59:41 and 2:59:40 respectively.

Plenty of post-race refreshments were on offer, including some of the best yogurts you never really thought you needed and some cold pasta which was best avoided.

To sum up, it’s a tough (over 1650ft of Climbing!) but rewarding race in a stunning location. Really well organised and definitely something a little different. I’d wholeheartedly recommend you add this one to your calendars for next year.