I can clearly recall my excitement back in 2012 when I first heard the news that a marathon would be coming to the streets of our city and surrounding countryside. Maybe it was all in the planning, coming hot on the heels of the Olympics in London. Something of a legacy maybe to keep those Northern folks fit and give them an excuse to get out in the fresh air and exercise their whippets.
I digress but who else went to the Olympics? One of the best sporting fortnights there has been. I was up and down to London on several occasions to watch sports, none of which I've seen live since. Archery, weightlifting, fencing, beach volleyball and that old favourite, Greco Roman wrestling.
It seems fitting that this week we celebrated the 10th Yorkshire Marathon and news from the Olympics that my favourite sport, squash would finally make its debut in 2028.
Back in 2013, the athletes of the world (well Yorkshire maybe) gathered at the University of York for the first staging of the Yorkshire Marathon and 10 years later here we still are making that annual pilgrimage through the city, down Stockton Lane, out to Stammy Bridge, up to Dunnington, round the back rounds and back to the Uni.
Postal have always been big supporters of the event with a hardy contingent of us taking place in the marathon every year and plenty more when the 10 mile race was added a few years after the whole thing began.
The 2023 version offered us no excuses. Perfect weather, a tad cold at the start but sunshine and minimal wind. We were fit (ish) and ready to go, even our own Mr Pearson, fresh from a bout of Covid. The marathon is tough enough, to complete it after a dance with Covid is impressive.
Alongside Marc we also had Dee Bouderba maintaining her ever present record, Harriet Sleight who has been training like a pro and Paul Hatfield, reminding us that he's still a runner with some quality times over a range of distances on his running CV. Finishing off the Postal fivesome was me, joining Dee as another of the 37 ever presents and proudly clutching our VIP passes to reward us for 10 years of madness.
I know you're all itching to know what exactly is a VIP pass. You need to wait no longer. One of the primary benefits is the easy access to the toilets. Proper toilets with no queues. Just what you need when you are 'well' hydrated! We also had a buffet breakfast on offer. Now, as you know, I'm a highly tuned athlete with a figure to match so the croissants and Danish pastries were left alone. Aside from that it was our first opportunity to say hello to our fellow ever presents. A number of them are well known to us as they're as local as we are but many of them we were meeting for the first time.
The VIP area was where the 'celebs' were hanging out as well. I'd love to be able to say I was sat there digesting my croissant and Kipchoge pulled up a chair for a chat about training methods. Sadly Eliud was busy elsewhere but we did have the ladies and gents who were in with a chance of winning the thing. It was lovely to catch up with Melissah Gibson for example. I'd last seen Melissah at the Cyprus Marathon last year when I beat her by about 10 seconds as she claimed the first lady honours, in fact they asked her to cross the finish line again as they weren't ready with the finish tape. Clearly they got distracted by my glorious finish just seconds below.
I think I knew that day in Paphos that Melissah was better than me. She certainly looks much more like a runner than me. The hail and the wind that day played havoc with the slighter built runners whereas I just ploughed on through it. No such trouble on Sunday though as Melissah stormed to a win with a new PB of 2:40.
In terms of the Postie contingent we had some targetting PB's. Anyone on Strava will know Harriet has been following a training plan and looked more than ready for a sub 4 attempt whilst I was having yet another bash at something that began with a 2. I'm never one to sit back and see how it goes so was in for a 2.59 or better from the off, casting off any doubts about the impact of a recent ultra or two that may or not be lingering in my legs. You'll never know if you never try.
I'm guessing was Marc was just happy to be there after his bout of Covid and Paul will have been keen to show that he remains a class runner despite a lack of the level of training he would normally do. Dee meanwhile does these things in her sleep I think.
So, what went well then. Well we all finished. Dee & I are still members of the ever presents club and all 37 of us finished so we'll all be back next year to keep that going. Harriet has got a lovely new PB to shout about and be very proud of. Not your sub 4 that you were after H but it's there. I joined Harriet in the so near but so far club. Sub 3 was on the cards until about mile 21, in fact my splits for the first 21 miles make it look like I know what I'm doing at this marathon. It was right where I wanted it to be and the purgatory otherwise known as the Dunnington switchbacks were behind me and I was still moving well.
Too well it turned out as those quads started to remind me of their existence somewhere between Holtby and Murton. Sub 3 out of the window for now. I'm coming back to try again, likely to be London next year when I will have had a full 5 months without any races to focus 100% on my training plan. Can't remember the last time, lockdown aside, when I went 5 months without doing a marathon. Might do me some good!
The usual features that make this a brilliant event were still there. Posties and other local friends popping up where you least expect them to cheer us all on. The massed ranks at the bottom of Green Dykes Lane, there to cheer us up that last hill was first class as always.
That half sprint to the finish line came and went and I was back in my 'VIP' area before I knew it. Some humbling local performances to shout about from two blokes in their 50's. There's always time you see! Rich Ginn from Pock Runners who has more sub 3 hour marathons under his belt than I've had hot dinners (genuinely) chalked up a new PB in 2:41 and Dave Smithers from YKH knocked a few more seconds off his PB, finishing in 2:35. First class from both of my friends.
Well done to all of our fabulous club who were out there, whether it was 10 miles, marathon, relay or supporting. You're all brilliant people and make me proud to call myself a Postie.