Has there ever been a better time to be a Postal Harrier? Answers on a postcard please.
It certainly seems that the last couple of weeks has continually delivered results and experiences alongside a raft of new members that suggests our little club is not quite so little anymore. And we've got the performances to match.
I'm going to do my best to try and capture everything that has been amazing about the last few weeks. In doing so I will inevitably miss someone's great run so I'm putting my apologies out there early. Forgive me.
It all started, I think, over on the dark side. Over there on t'other side er Pennines in Manchester. We had a sole representative, flying the flag in the land of Betty's Hot Pot. Step forward Jess Harvie. Judging by the look of astonishment on your face at the end, I'm taking a wild stab in the dark and guessing that your finish time wasn't expected. All I can say is 3.26.55 is outstanding. Proof of the pudding is found when you check out the Good for Age qualifying standard for London and see that for 18-39 year old women it is 3.45. About 19 minutes inside that Jess, see you on the streets of London next year.
It seems obvious to say it but the biggest thing for me when going for a time in a long distance race is having that belief in yourself. You've got to back yourself right from the start to be able to maintain the required pace throughout as it's no good deciding at half way that you're going to go for it as it may be too late.
The problem with going all in from the start is it can be a long way to go if it all goes pear shaped so belief and confidence go a long way towards achieving your goals.
Aside from Jess' finish time, the other aspect that impressed me was the consistency of her splits. I'm not talking about gymnastic moves here! Only the best runners get consistent splits across each of the 42 kilometres. There is generally some drop off in the last 5K as the aggregate impact of the distance kicks in. A quick bit of Strava research shows me there was no drop off at all, that in itself is beyond impressive. In fact the only drop off was briefly at 26K and a glance at the elevation tells me there was a bit of a lump in the road there. That explains it. Just exceptional Jess and you should be very proud of showing them there Lancastrians how it's done.
I'm going to stick with the marathon theme and move forward a week in time to the big smoke and the iconic London Marathon. Have we ever had 5 Posties running in this marathon major before? I don't know the answer but what a great achievement for our club.
London really is one of the great road marathons in the global calendar. The media can sometimes convince us Brits that no other races exist and that it's all about London. There are many other amazing road marathons around the world, notably the other 5 major venues of Berlin, Boston, Chicago, New York and Tokyo but there is something special about London. It's ours. We don't need to get on a plane and if your experience was anything like mine, you can leave home at 11.30am on a Saturday morning (once you've done your village parkrun) and arrive at the Expo in Docklands at 2.30pm. When it works, our transport system works.
So who did we have running round the streets paved with gold then? Our club place runners were Di Campbell and Melissa Partridge. Paul Hatfield & Neale Holmes had secured coveted ballot places and yours truly was (ahem) good for age, much like a fine wine allegedly.
I think there's a balance to this big city stuff. You can't rock up an hour before, park your car near the start, find a portaloo, pick up your bib number, find the portaloo again and then start. You've also got to decide if you want to be a tourist or not in the days before the race. It's all time on your feet that you can well do without come race day or not if you want to see the sights.
Now I'm no fan of an expo. They're full of folks trying to flog you stuff that you've either already got or don't need. A bit of a runners version of Lakeland for kitchen equipment. Come on, who's got kitchen cupboards stuffed with gadgets that sounded ace at the time and you had a two week stint with your carrot juicer before consigning it to the back of the cupboard where it's not since seen the light of day?
However, if you're a first timer to an expo I get the excitement and the buzz that the expo creates. They're often just rammed with runners desperate to get their hands on whatever merch the main sponsor has chosen to tempt our wallets with. They certainly get the adrenaline flowing though, ready for the real action on the Sunday.
Fast forward to Sunday morning and it was a beautiful start to the day as I walked from my overnight booking.com rabbit hutch in Surrey Quays to the start at Greenwich Park. I was in the green start, an eclectic mix of good for age runners and the serious fancy dress brigade. I'm not talking just any old fancy dress here, it's the Kipchoge of the fancy dress world. You see a mix of outfits that don't really impinge on your ability to run all the way through to sticking a fridge on your back and thinking, do you know what, I'm going to do a marathon with this strapped to me.
Just as we were about to start the heavens opened. A steady drizzle at first or sprinkles as they called it on the never ending weather forecasts I saw in Boston. I like the definition. Sprinkles of rain. It got steadily heavier but I don't mind the rain. It keeps you cool and it keeps your shoes clean. Proof that the heavens had opened came around mile 6 when I saw my first familiar face of the day, Hannah Holmes stood at the side of the road in her best poncho. Glad you spotted me Hannah as I wouldn't have seen you, such was the size of the crowds.
That came shortly after my 'this is a small world' experience. Less than a mile into the race I got a tap on my shoulder. Usually when walking around York city centre this leads to a chorus of you know everyone Dad from my kids. Not this time. The chap in question had clocked the back of my shirt, proudly proclaiming me as York Postal Harriers. Might seem a weird question he asked but did we meet part way round Boston last Monday? Indeed we did as he tapped me on the shoulder there as well and asked if I was from the real York. Is there any other I asked? It is indeed a small world.
There were many great things about the streets of London. A couple of chaps from Taddy Harriers ran fast, very fast. A chap from Leeds ran even faster and came in the top 10. Watch out for the name Emile Cairess, he's been doing good things for a while now and I'm sure we will see more of him in the future.
The Postal contingent were best of all though, bar none. Honest. OK I'm biased but we had a great day out whether your ambition was a certain time, enjoy the atmosphere or getting to the finish. We saw the lesser trained Paul Hatfield finishing in 3.35.27, proving that class is permanent. Di Campbell is another of our ladies leading the way with a Good For Age qualifying time of 3.44.25, well inside the sub 4 hour GFA limit. Time for another go Di?
Neale Holmes recorded an impressive 3.28.07 suggesting there is more to come from one of our band of new members. That leaves Melissa Partridge, who has overcome several injury setbacks to make it to the start line and raise a stack of money for charity in the process. It's been great to read Melissa's reflections on the experience and brilliant to see you complete your first London Marathon in 5.45.38. Apparently you've hung up your running shoes for good! I'll believe it when I see it but if you have, what a great experience to go out on.
That just leaves Boston on the marathon front. I won't write too much other than to say what an experience. There is no ballot so if you are fortunate enough to qualify and are able to do so then I highly recommend you make the most of the opportunity. From catching the iconic yellow school buses from the finish area to the start line to the noise that greeted us as we hit Boylston St and the finish, it was a wonderful experience. That's 4 of the marathon majors ticked off, Chicago & Tokyo left to finish them off. I don't know if that will ever happen but I've had some memorable experiences and as long as I can run well enough to qualify for these things I'm going to carry on making the most of it. We'll be a long time knackered!
Two days later saw the start of the Summer Leagues series with a first trip of the season to Tadcaster. The London Marathoners were all sat at home resting weary legs so it was left to our 10K crowd to fly the flag and boy did they. We had at least 29 Posties taking part. I say at least because some of our recent recruits from City of York are still showing up for their former club so in reality there were over 30 of us.
Stand out performance of the evening goes to Dom Carter, finishing 4th in 34.17. With reigning champion, Jordan Howe cheering his club mates on from the sidelines it was Dom who led us home in an impressive time and great finishing position. It's been clear to see for some time now that Dom has the ability to be one of York's fastest 5K and 10K runners and once his belief and confidence matched his speed then great things would happen. It looks like that time is now and I can't wait to see what Carter jnr does from here.
Our top 5 finishers were all home in under 40 mins and when you think we had a few fast boys missing then it augurs well for the rest of the season.
One thing that was also great to see that typifies the Postal spirit was the Strava result from another club athlete commenting on the boost they got from being supported by a Postal runner. That's what we're all about, we support each other regardless of club colours (but clearly we support each other more!)
It is also notable that our first four ladies all finished with sub 50 minute times, led home by Chessie Bell in 45.56. Again we've got a few more ladies with marathon legs to come back at Pocklington so we're looking good across the board.
It's not purely about the running and I love seeing Posties living their best lives and sharing the images online. Jo & Natty have both taken to the hills of Madeira recently and shared the breathtaking beauty of the climbs. The idea of those climbs with exposed drops to the side fills me with dread so you have my utmost respect. I recall one of my first weekend's away with Lucy in Bristol where she went to Uni. There was a little bridge between the parkrun course and our breakfast stop and I looked like the softest bloke in the world as I slowly edged my way over the Clifton suspension bridge. Good to see it didn't put her off. Keep sharing what you get up to away from running events as it serves to inspire the rest of us.
Watch this space for details of the forthcoming AGM and awards evening where we get to celebrate our most improved runner and club person of the year. Voting details will be out soon once we have an AGM date confirmed. All of the official posts will be up for re-election so please shout up if you would like to get involved.
That's all for the first report for a while. Inspiring performances aplenty and well done to all our members taking part in events. To all our members who have recently joined, welcome. You've made a great choice to become part of a fabulous community.