Race Report – Nicola Swann
This is the fourth time I’ve done this race and it was great to be back this year after there was no event in 2021. I’m not quite sure what puts Otley members off this event as there always seem to be a low turn out. Possibly it’s the fact that it’s at the start of January and the weather is unpredictable. Possibly it’s because its’s 10 miles, off road, muddy and hilly! Tough Not Timid is the slogan St Theresa’s Running Club use who are the organisers of this event.
It is well organised with friendly marshalls and starts and finishes on the top field just above the Courtyard area. This is a bonus as there are plenty of toilets available and they aren’t portaloos either! There is also a very efficient bag drop area so you can keep your coat on right until the last minute!
The race started at 9.30. The only bit I’m not so keen on is that it starts with a lap of the field. However, as someone who is rubbish at pre-race warm up’s then I tend to think of this part as just that. It does also help spread people out fairly early in the race bearing in mind that as soon as it leaves the field there is a fairly long section of single track along the side of the golf course and into the woods. This is downhill for a couple of miles which does ease you in gently, or, as I always find, means that I start too fast and by the time the hills kick in I’m tired.
The path through the woods were more muddy than I remember before it emerges to pick up an equally as muddy path which actually runs along the side of the motorway. Not the most scenic part of the route but it does remind you where you are. This then takes you under the motorway before entering a Nature Reserve area on the other side. Here the route does a full lap of the lake which at one point is also along the river, again much muddier than I remember.
Eventually after the lap round the lake you start to head back towards Temple Newsam Estate. But not before facing ‘The Big Puddle’ as you hit the half way point. If you think the mud is deep on the final path off the Chevin Chase before you drop back to Guiseley then this is in a different league. Some people attempt to cling to the trees at the side but there is really little point. Through the middle is best, but it is deep. This year nearly knee deep. And unlike the sweet smelling Guiseley mud this is fairly stinky! It also marks the beginning of the hills. You emerge from the ‘puddle’ to head up hill before running back towards Temple Newsam. You are welcomed at this point by the much needed water station. This is the start of the only short tarmac section of the whole route. And it is here because it is at the bottom of a huge hill.
Walking and rehydrating for a short part of this meant I set off running again just before hitting the top and the view of Temple Newsam House itself looming in front. The route takes a right before a nice downhill which then picks up some of the trail paths round the edge of the estate. Unfortunately there is another big uphill at about 7.5 miles. This is not tarmac and was so muddy and steep that it felt like one step forwards and two steps backwards as I battled to the top of the bank before continuing the longer uphill struggle on a gravel path to the top.
The route then meanders back through the trees and the farmland of the estate for the final two miles before emerging by the little lake near the house. It also lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s less than a mile to the finish yet there is still a final short steep uphill section which goes through what is now ‘Go Ape’ before you emerge back onto the field for the final ‘battle’ to the finish line.
Despite the mud and the puddles and the hills and the distance this is a lovely friendly race and a great way to start the New Year. The medal and the nice long sleeved tech t-shirt are also a pleasant reward.
First Male: Daniel Grant – Valley Striders – 1:01:04
First Female: Alice Leake – 12th overall – Leeds City AC – 1:05:27
Otley AC Runners:
Tony Wetherill – 93rd – 1:18:09
Paul Lister – 106 – 1:19:28
David Mullen – 114 – 1:19:50
Nicola Swann – 493 – 1:44:10
774 Runners in total