Sunday 28 Feburary 2016 was a lovely day. Crisp and cold but with a nice bright blue sky. Perfect racing conditions!

So, what better day to tackle a 13.1 mile (hmmmm not quite…but more about that later) run around Harewood estate in Leeds.

Trail shoes at the ready for the 10am start. There was a field of around 1,000 runners.

As the race started it took a good mile or two for the crowd to thin out and give you the chance to start overtaking people.

The race started off on a gentle bit of flat, followed by a nice downhill section. Pretty much lulling you into a false sense of ‘oh, this isn’t too bad’. But as we all know, where there’s a nice down there’s always an up afterwards.

And there were plenty of ups, the majority of them weren’t too bad and we managed to run up them. But there were a couple of more severe ones, where there was no option (well no option for normal people, there were some super folk running them) but to walk up them.

The hardest hill of all was definitely the one that led to the finish line, it will always baffle me why race organisers feel it necessary to end a race by getting everyone to slog up a hill with a 117ft elevation! But slog up it we did!

I reckon there are two major selling points of this race:

  1. The views. These were lovely, a really scenic race across some lovely countryside. There wasn’t a car or a tarmacked road in sight. It certainly beats running round a city centre, where views are generally a bit lacking.
  1. The terrain. I know some of my fellow runners (*cough* *cough* Helen) would completely disagree, but the mixture of running surfaces was really enjoyable. It varied between grass, tracks through woods and couple of ‘proper’ paths/roads. It does make it harder, and your ankles will roll with the uneven terrain, but that’s all part of the fun. It makes the time go a lot quicker when you have to constantly think about where to place your footing to avoid falling!

There is one big gripe I have with the course though, and that’s the distance. I was sold a half marathon but my trusty GPS informed me that I’d actually only run 12.5 miles (0.7 miles short). I felt a bit cheated.

We started to notice around the 4 mile mark that we were falling short, every time we got to a mile marker, our watches weren’t quite showing the same distance. And the further along the route we got the further behind we fell. Making it especially noticeable later on in the race.

From what I could tell, the main reason for this was that there were easy places to cut corners, and when one person does this everyone follows. I think it would have been worth the route being marked a bit clearer or having more marshals posted in places where this could easily happen.

This gripe aside, I would highly recommend the race, especially if you enjoy something other than pounding pavements. Even if you don’t, give it a go, I think you’d be surprised by how much you enjoy it. But I’d recommend getting some off road practice in first!

Puma finishing times:

  • Rachael Sherwood – 1:48:39 – Also the 22nd woman home, an amazing achievement
  • Ally Canning – 2:09:26
  • Helen Jackson – 2:09:26
  • Nicola Watts – 2:11:57

Photos from the event:

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