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The Abbey Dash ... Sue Bickerdike

The Dash is always a favourite with the Harriers, partly because of it's locality and partly because of it's PB potential. It's a particular favourite of mine because it was my first ever 10K race and an annual benchmark for monitoring my performance - good or otherwise. This year had the added poignancy of possibly being the last ever running of the event - the rumour-mongers have been busy!

Having vowed not to repeat last years preparation it was with great fortitude and stoicism that I offered to drive to the Girls Night Out in the Badlands of Bradford city centre (I know! - heaven forbid I may be becoming a dedicated runner again………). I awoke fresh as a daisy, with only the scent of a chicken balti lingering in the air.

Parker, aka Keith, arrived bang on time and I joined the merry throng (Brian, Nigel and Helen H) in the back of the Saab. Talk turned to getting a good warm-up, predicted finish times, last nights tea, rendezvous points - all the usual stuff. Arrival at Leeds provided the first mini-panic of the morning as our usual spot to ditch the car was sealed off. A circuitous route around the only part of town that seemed to be open eventually - finally - yielded a parking space, and by concensus we decided that we'd abandon the warm-up and run like hell to the start!

Obviously in fine form we arrived with enough time to queue for the loos, do a quick lap around Millenium Square and forage to the front of the throng. The new start was a bit disconcerting - very narrow and downhill! Maybe this was why I got off to a flyer - then spent the rest of the race reminding myself that I'm a tortoise and not a hare……Having decided that I didn't like the new route because all my mental markers were in the wrong place, cursing because I was wearing too many clothes and feeling more than a little miffed because my i-pod was misbehaving I decided to just go with the flow and settled into a pace that was just behind the reassuring figure of Keith.

The A65 is not the most pleasant of surroundings at the best of times, but today the weather was forgiving and everything was proceeding nicely. The new route meant that the first guys were on their way back on the other side of the road a lot earlier than in previous years (surely it wasn't just that I had slowed down..?). Although slightly depressing I always like this part as you look out for fellow Harriers to cheer on and somehow it takes your mind off the job in hand - or maybe it's just that I'm so easily distracted…….

At the 5k mark Alison Bennet overtook me and I really started to think that maybe I'd gone out too hard! Still, in for a penny in for a pound. The run back is always longer than the run out, and I found myself in the bizarre situation of catching Keith, then overtaking, then being caught and the swing-o-meter kept like this all the way til 9k (you can really start to dislike some people after a while). It was then that Terry Lonergan gesticulated at me to 'keep with Keith', and being renowned as someone who responds well to encouragement, criticism, or communication of any sort I stopped; after all, a race isn't a race without a little walk at some point………! Pointless point made I carried on, got overtaken in the run in by the flying Catherine Gibbons, and thankfully crossed the line in a very respectable 45 mins 47sec, some 30 secs behind Keith.

The best part about racing is undoubtedly the moment you cross the finish, press that button and the agony ends. A truly close second however is the post-race euphoria, meeting up with other Harriers, being genuinely pleased that they've done well, or commiserating with a personal worst or injury incurred along the way. I haven't raced in a while, and today I was reminded how good it is to be part of the red and green!

So, of the other red and greens that I saw - Helen H had to sensibly pull up with a niggling achiles problem, Nigel full of early Christmas dinner did 43.18 - too much bread sauce Nigel!, Andy Wilson, John Woodward and Pete Shields stormed round in 42mins there or there abouts, Jonathan Sinclair 36ish, Alison Bennet 40ish, Andy Wiggins looked good, but no time to report, Catherine Gibbons a fantastic 43 something, Brian Sweet 63mins ish. Also saw Bernie Gibbons, Bridget Doherty and sister Collette, Andrew Bennett, Amanda Parnaby, Pete Bedwell, Amanda Oddey who was storming, but had cooled down and gone home by the time I finished! Others who I'm ashamed to say I don't know but I'm sure will reveal themselves when the results are published.

Once again, a good day out!

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