Here’s a great report on another of those races in obscure places by none other than Terry Welsh.
Ripley North Yorkshire November 4th
Ripley is a little village in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire a few miles North of Harrogate. It has a 15th Century castle and for many years has been the scene of the Guy Fawkes 10 road race, hosted by Nidd Valley Road Runners.
The reason I went was to try and get a decent 10 mile time in the book for this year. I couldn’t get to the Tynedale and I can’t get to Carlisle so there are few options left. Once we had glorious tens in Bedlington, Hebburn, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Cramlington and all over the place round here but no more and no sign of any. So a Sunday on the road in Autumn splendoured Yorkshire Dales was tempting.
The trouble was that there was fog all over Yorkshire last Sunday and the car lights went on at Darlington and stayed on until I emerged into the car park at Ripley. You couldn’t see much there. Shadowy figures in running gear slinking by through the mist, the sinister turrets and the walls of a castle on which the suns light did not shine, great damp trees seemingly standing alone and lost leftovers from Halloween creeping over the damp red leaves.
We started , 794 of us in a long narrow file and were sent along a rugged cart track in front of the castle. We queued to get on the track, we queued to get through a gate, we queued to get round the flooding in the road. It was all clumpy, clarty and cobbly.
Somebody said ‘ What’s this ? An army assault course ?’
When I finished the first mile my watch said twelve minutes and six seconds. Not too promising for a decent time.
Eventually we were on the road, nice and easy although you couldn’t see much of the countryside.
Then, round a corner we came to a big yellow sign with ‘ the Birstwith Beast’ written on it and we climbed. It’s a strange feeling running up a horrible hill in the mist because what comes out of the fog at eye level is just tarmac and you get the impression that you are moving towards a vertical wall.
A bit further on was another big yellow sign which said ‘ the Swincliffe Swine ‘.
The third hill didn’t even get a name, the cheery organisers just put up a big yellow sign saying ‘For Fawkes Sake’.
In between these delights there were more cart tracks destroyed by the summer, more flooding, more muck, more mud and more blood.
The last mile is along a rugged wobbly track, that’s out to get your ankles, taking you before to a finish in the castle grounds.
I didn’t get that good time. I did the worst ten miles I’ve ever done by six minutes. And my plantar fasciitis is still killing me.
I will say that the organization from Nidd Valley Road Runners was excellent. They are not responsible for the global warming that’s messing up country back tracks. The marshalls were all encouraging and helpful. The goody bag was full of Rowntrees chocolate bars. If I’d known I was getting so much I wouldn’t have gone round our estate the other Wednesday dressed as a skeleton yelling ‘trick or treat’.
The race wasn’t my cup of tea. If I was going to Harrogate, that would be for a Darjeeling in Betty’s with a Fat Rascal. But I reckon that some of you would love the Guy Fawkes Ten. If you like clarty muck and uphill slogs and can position yourself to get away sharp then this is the race for you. For a decent time , no. For a daft day out, definitely.
But we need more ten milers, up here, in sensible places. The British record is still held by Ian Stewart, 45.13 in 1977. The winner of the British ten mile championship did 46.40 last month. Signs of neglect by UKA for a classic racing distance, ideal for so many, shows through.