Friday, 4 June 2010
Hybrid course...a test of fortitude and patience!
Race course design is a hard task at the best of times; but generally the course designer works within the parameters of "road", "fell" or "trail". Take this defining restriction away and of course the course designer has virtually a free hand, within boundaries of common sense and of course, health and safety, to take the competiors wherever he wishes. One of the local midweek leagues in this Yorkshire area used to be called a ROAD league but as finding 100% tarmac races seemed to prove more and more difficult for the participating clubs it is now just called a RACE league. Hence more licence for the organisers!
Last night's event was a real hybrid. Starting close to the centre of Yeadon the 281 runners (16 to 75 years of age) sped down a tarmac disused rail track then descended into woods via a rocky trail; returning via a dense wood with twisting narrow pathways which made for difficult overtaking. They emerged from the wood to then climb back via the trail and fields before the easier last mile back on tarmac.
In contrast, last year's league ladies winner
JOSIE HODGETTS (Otley AC), seen here after
But it was decided that if she could start fast and be in the lead at the end of the tarmac it would be very difficult for others to catch and pass. This plan worked and she held a lead of a minute over LISA MAWER, recovering from the recent Edinbuirgh marathon.
I stood with one of my ex pupils as the runners wearily tackled the final gruelling uphill stretch. As JOSIE came into view up the last hill. I turned to him and said ,
"I bet she say's ..."I don't like this!" A minute later she passed and did indeed say....."I hated it!"
So there you have it. Who'd be a race course designer! The men's race won by a very able, very young man
demonstrating excellent versatility on road, trail and cross country surfaces which the event encompassed
whilst, let's just say, others weren't so happy!
I would say though that bearing in mind the age profile and fitness levels of many competitors the race could have been a lot kinder and more thoughtful given the choices of route in the area. I couldn't help thinking that the hybrid course, a mixture of tarmac, stony trail and narrrow rutted paths climbing through the woods hadn't really taken into consideration the agility and strengths of over half of the largely veteran competitors.