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Burnsall 10 mile road race (aka the worst race of my life), 23 August, by Sue Bickerdike

Having just seen the results, my worst fears have been confirmed. This course proved too tough to tackle after a prolonged holiday absence and a delayed 40th birthday night out with Ms Harvey and co............

It was only the lure of some league points that dragged me from my Lucozade drip, that and the thought that a bit of fresh country air may relieve the throbbing that had replaced my head. As a league counter the race was well attended by Harriers, and I think the turn-out generally was better than when I spectated last year. My inappropriate decision to run was compounded by sheer dread when the general pre-race discussions consisted of phrases such as 'I did this 2 years ago and vowed never to do it again' and other encouraging stuff. Still, maybe under the influence of the previous nights celebrations, there were serious thoughts about tackling the double, the road race and the fell race after. Memories of the Abbey Dash + Fell Race = a year of injury flew through my head and I declined. A moment later Pete Shields declared his intention to do said madness and I was tempted again, but a final decision was left to 'see how we feel in 2hrs time........'

We ambled to the start and all of a sudden we were off. After a mile of up I'd had enough. After 2 miles of up I was seriously going to give up and post my first ever DNF. Then came a bit of down, so I carried on. At 3 miles I was desperately looking for a friendly marshal with a car, at 4 I had lost the will to live, at 5 I could swear that this was the longest race ever. At this point we went up yet another hill. I remember someone saying something about a killer hill at 8 miles.........but we'd already gone up, up, up, and up again, so I was already anticipating certain death at the 8 mile mark. Then joy, a sign post saying Burnsall 3 miles, turn left. Sadly, we turned right and it took all my powers of mind over matter not to rip off my number and take the short-cut home. At 6 miles an old hip-injury returned and I knew it was just plod home time. A 109yr-old bloke in diving boots over-took me, and bizarrely enough this gave me something to latch onto, and as he clunked round I limped after him. 8 miles came and went - perhaps I'd misheard? But no, there it was in the distance. Even though I was running slowly enough to admire the quality of the dry-stone walling either side of me I still managed an inward chuckle at the fact that though I was barely running, I was still going faster than those Sunday drivers who had not taken notice of the 'beware runner' signs and were slowly turning puce as some old person in a Micra tried to reverse backwards into a non-existent passing point.

At each turn I hoped the hills would stop, and not before time they did. Diving-boot man disappeared into the distance as I limped down the hill, Mark, Sarah and Amanda came into view and I took this as a sign that the agony may be nearly over. It was and the infamous Burnsall Green and salvation appeared. I have never been so grateful to finish a race in my life. All thoughts of doing the Fell Race dissipated as we headed for the bar. Strangely, half an hour later, suitably re-hydrated I sort of regretted not giving the double a go, so we stayed to cheer Chairman Pete in his awesome defiance of age and sensibility.

For future reference, I will be on holiday, somewhere hot, sunny, and flat next year.

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