Burnsall Half Marathon race review

Fresh in my mind, last Saturday was the Burnsall Half, run by Due North Events. I’ve been wondering whether to write this now, or give it a few days when I might forget the worst bits and just focus on the good bits but then I thought that isn’t really giving a true reflection of the race.

You might have already realised that this wasn’t particularly a good day for me. I don’t want to shy away from that as we all have bad days.

So, Burnsall Half. The first race we have participated in since the pandemic. I had been reassured by the organisers’ communication on the systems put in place to keep social distancing and I believe that worked pretty well, we set off in waves of six and at no point did I feel crowded. Burnsall is about 2.5 hours drive for us therefore we headed over on Friday, had a stop in Pateley Bridge and a lovely walk around the nearby Grimwith Reservoir before finding a spot tucked away off a tiny back road to spend the night in the campervan. A good meal of chicken curry, rice and naan bread and we were snuggled in bed to watch a film and have a good night’s sleep.

Ideal spot for the night
The view from the van

Training for this race hasn’t been ideal. Like many, motivation for specific goal races has maybe been a bit limited – we had no idea which events were going to actually happen and add to that a fall and subsequent injury at the end of May. The furthest we’ve run recently is 10ish miles, most running is done in the pretty flat area of East Yorkshire so I was pleased we’d got some decent hill training in the Peak District a few weeks ago. All of this meant I was a bit apprehensive of the distance and terrain.

The start is in the large village field / car park which is bordered by the river. I don’t think you could get a much more picturesque start. Five minutes before your start time you were called to the desk, given your number to quickly pin on and then in the start pen. Off we went. A loop of the field, giving us a good look at the river which we followed for about three quarters of a mile. I loved the fact that we had a chance to get warmed up before having to head up a hill!

First mistake – too many clothes. I had put a thin long sleeved top under my tshirt and I really shouldn’t have done. This meant (with the help of my husband to hold / hand me things) I – whilst walking – took off my back pack, took off my tshirt, took off my long sleeved top, put the tshirt back on, put the pack back on, husband shoved top in my pack… Lesson learnt.

The course is a big figure of eight, with two main climbs, two main descents. A few short sections on roads, the rest on tracks or fields. It was good to have a bit of a breather in the middle when we looped back to the river to a relatively flat section.

With impeccable timing at around four miles into the run period pains hit me like a sledgehammer. I did have some paracetamol with me so I quickly took those but never really got decent relief (I wish I’d had ibuprofen as well, then I’d have doubled up – next lesson learnt). I just really struggled for the rest of the run. Normally when I’m running with my husband we will chat a bit, look around, take a few pictures – ie enjoy the run. Nope. The only way I can describe it is that it was taking every bit of effort and concentration that I had to be able to put one foot in front of the other and not throw up. What this meant in reality was that my phone didn’t come out of my pocket once (no photo’s from me to remember the day!); I barely spoke (yes, yes, you might say he was relieved to have the peace…); I pretty much just looked at the ground immediately in front of me. At one point he asked me if I was OK, I think my answer was ‘just don’t’. He understood. What I meant was, don’t ask how I am, don’t show sympathy or concern, else you’ll end up with a blubbering wreck (and I can tell you from experience, crying and running doesn’t work very well).

After the second climb we started to head down towards the village of Hebden. I knew that once I was here it levelled out and we followed the river back to Burnsall. Over the climb I just kept repeating to myself ‘just get to Hebden, just get to Hebden’. We dropped to the river, crossed a VERY bouncy foot bridge and then we were on the river path. The mantra changed to ‘2 miles, just 2 miles’ over and over again (don’t think I ever changed it to just 1 mile lol). I know this section is beautiful, I just wish I could have enjoyed it more.

The last stretch along the river

All of a sudden we were coming round the bend to see the pub beer garden then the bridge – just needed to get over the bridge, we could see the finish, into the field, through the funnel (where they scanned the barcode on your number) and we were done. I walked immediately away to hide behind the loo block and burst into tears with relief and frustration.

Really pleased we had the campervan as the next hour or two were spent freshening up and getting into warm, dry clothes; taking a ridiculous amount of time to eat one packet of crisps (eat one crisp, try not to throw up, and repeat); finally feeling able to eat a sandwich and beginning to feel a little more human (more painkillers probably helped!).

Time: 02:47:37
Distance: 13.26 miles

Would I do it again? Yes I probably would, but just hope that it is a better run! I think I just need to put this one down to bloody bad timing.

Picture credits have to go to my husband, without whom I would not have had any photos.

Burnsall Half Route Map

Read more race reports here – https://amilerun.wordpress.com/category/race-reports/

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