For some reason I decided to enter my third ever half marathon after been talked into it by an ex-mate (only kidding, he's still just about a mate). Apart from the Trawden 7 and Bronte Way I've not really done much off road but I enjoyed those. This though was another level!
The start was a 15 minute walk from the meeting place at Baildon Rugby Union Club, and was organized by Baildon Runners. So after the walk downhill all the way we amassed on a narrow country green way, a bit of a bottle neck to be fair. The starter warned us of some water born viruses we should be aware of, plenty of opportunities for the puddles to help it along the way.
So at 9.30am 337 of us were off. The first few hundred yards were a bit tight with people trying to avoid virus spreading puddles, then it spread out quite nicely up a grassy climb. Then came a stretch of Tarmac down to and over the main Shipley to Guiseley road, well marshalled, and the road was temporarily closed to allow every one safely across.
I settled into a nice steady pace over some fields and into the village of Esholt (made famous as it used to be the village where Emmerdale was filmed). Then up in to Esholt woods which got you into the off-road stuff proper - a short, sharp, very muddy climb - I managed to keep jogging and got round three or four other runners. I had a really good run through the woods managing to keep a reasonable pace.
The next 200 yards was a steeplechase with some nicely placed metal jumps knee high to avoid the dreaded 10-foot wide puddles. It certainly got the heart rate pumping!
It was a nice steady run then over to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and another hill climb into Buck Woods. The easiest way to get down the hill in the woods back to the bottom was either to treat it as a slide or get down on your back side. I tried both; it wasn't pretty.
The next section was a bit of a rest through a couple of boggy meadows to the next wood which was actually really good fun. There were lots of tree roots to negotiate, luckily I know this wood having mountain biked through it, so maybe I enjoyed it for that reason as I knew what to expect.
Then out of the woods from Thackley on to the canal a couple of miles on to Saltaire. To be honest this section felt like it went on for six miles I found it mentally tough, maybe I felt I should be running faster than I was as I was losing a lot of places.
Off the canal just after Saltaire then turn right for the big climb up through Shipley Glen, a very long slow section which is really steep all the way up to Baildon moor, a very rooty and woody section which for me involved quite a bit of root marching (see the pun).
Next section on to Baildon moor this is where the wheels fell off for me as I was really suffering with a blister and had to remove my trainers and run through the bogs bare foot. It seemed to help! But at this stage with three miles to go, it was the first time I wished a run to be over before it actually was. Once through the bogs trainers went back on as the route turned to Tarmac and trail for the last couple of miles.
I found it a tough race and it was a new experience for me...
1270 feet of climbing
2h 32m of running and a bit of walking
2500 calories burnt
Loved it in parts, hated it in others. Will I do it next year? Of course! Leeds Half will be a doddle compared to this...