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2018 Wharfedale Trail Half Marathon - Richard Bell

02/06/2018

After a brilliant spell of uninterrupted good weather the dark clouds gathering as I set off for Grassington indicated that sunscreen wouldn’t be necessary at this years Wharfedale Trail Half Marathon. As Wetherby’s sole representative this year, with the majority of you resting up before the Mulgrave 10k, I might have cut a lonely figure, a bit like Theresa May at a Euro summit, but fortunately there were a few pals from Otley to chat away to before we had to start.
I’d been abusing a hamstring injury for a few weeks so was a bit wary, my strategy of ‘ignore it and it will fix itself’ seems to be paying off and I felt better than I had in a few weeks. Dibbers collected we set off through the outskirts of Threshfield over the bridge and via a queue at the first style up onto the moors.
My plan was to let my legs acclimatise in the first couple of miles and then see how I felt.
By now the clouds were delivering steady rain, but with no wind to speak off it was a bit like running through a cooling shower, permanently. 


I was glad I’d opted for bum bag rather than pack to keep chafing to a minimum.
It was great to see Jack and Catherine from Otley at the five mile or so mark. I managed a hug and a couple of welcome jelly babies and was all set for Mastilles Lane. At the foot of this epic climb I checked my watch and vowed to run the whole hill. I’m pleased to say I managed it, just, slow steady but definitely running it. My reward at the top was sight of Phil Robinson from Otley just a dozen yards or so in front. He’d beaten me easily last week so this was a definite step back on the comeback trail assuming I could catch him of course.
Through the next checkpoint and out again across the moors, despite the rain the ground was nice and firm but skiddy on the many stiles at this point.
By the next checkpoint by a farm I’d caught and passed Phil as we climbed once again.
This was a no cups race so at the water stations you needed to have your own bottle. This was well advertised in advance but to be fair there were a few cups at each station which you self filled and left for the next person.
By now I was suffering from a sugar crash and needed the heralded jelly babies realising I’d overshoot the very young lady handing them out I did a first in any race and ran back to collect a couple. With a suitable boost I was off again. Finally 2 hours on I could make out a few houses in the distance and looking at my Garmin for the first time was pleased to see only another mile and a half to go.


As we descended off the moor the grass was longer and much more slippery, I recognised how slippy it was half way through my para roll, bounce once twice and back on my feet. Try to look cool ! Fail.
As you come back into Grassington a mile or so of road rewards tired legs with a good pounding. Determined not to lose any places and ideally gain a few it was lung busting slog to the rugby club and across the line in 2.18. Well pleased. Great even I’ll definitely be back next year with hopefully a few more of you to keep me company.