I found the pace which Mike Appleton was setting was slightly too hard for me probably due to the fact of not warming up properly (that will teach me ) and as the first couple of miles passed by we managed to open up a slender lead and at this point the slight stiffness in my ankle that requires a few miles to settle down was up and running. We passed through the scenic grounds of Swinton Park and from there it isn't long before the relentless hill climbs of all various lengths and gradients begin. On the first hardish climb I managed to open a very slight lead so I went with the plan of trying to keep it, the problem with this idea when you rivals are of a similar fitness level is trying to keep the intensity hard enough but not enough that you blow up before the finishing line. I tried to keep the effort I was operating at as constant as possible whether it be uphill, flat or downhill but with some very long climbs around the seven mile point I must of gone well into the red as I ended up with a stitch as I descended cross country through a farm. The short steep climbs were even more frustrating than usual as my speed slowed that much I ended up with an entourage of hundreds of flys buzzing round the top of my head and it wasn't until I could regain some of my speed again that I could leave them behind. There was plenty of water stations and sponge stations on route which gave me something to look forward to each few miles, the last water station tickled me as one young girl edged out into the middle of the road to pass me a drink and then another younger girl not to be out done went to the other side and left me with about a four inch gap to squeeze through. I came to halt grabbed a drink with each hand from the girls thanked them and continued on my way taking alternate sips of that much needed water. The last few miles seemed never ending and with half mile to go my fellow Lyke Wake Walk mate Jon and his wife Margret gave me a much neeeded cheer on which also seemed to bring me out of a heat induced trance and from that point all I could think about was getting the win and the joy that it would bring.
It was my first win in this years Yorkshire Dales Race Series along with it being my first win of the season and probably my last for some time so I will savour the moment that extra bit longer I think.
It's one tough race that Burn Valley Half Marathon but I also find it's a must not miss race.
Many thanks to Peter Richardson of Swaledale Road Runners for the excellent photographs.