Thirsk 10M 2015
[Mon 23rd Mar]
The Thirsk 10 mile road race was included in this year's Grand Prix as a replacement for a cancelled race a couple of weeks later. I think that it is nine years since this race was last included in the Grand Prix, and in those days it was a summer race. Whether it is the same course or not I cannot report, having missed the pleasure of what was a apparently a very hot day back in 2006. However, the race has been established in its present march slot for a while now, and it was easy to see why it has gained a reputation for being both flat and fast.
Attracted by this reputation no doubt, but also by a gloriously sunny day with only a breeze to take the edge off the rising temperatures, well over 1,000 runners lined up for the start and to those of us unfamiliar with the course it soon became clear that there was decision to be made, as it was going to take quite a while to get everyone across the start line. With Grand Prix races being decided on gun time and finish position (and not on chip time), you didn't really want to be giving too much of a start to your fellow Blyth runners, although clearly getting too closer to the front would result in becoming a pain to the rest of the runners as well as a lot of being overtaken, which can be a bit soul destroying. Needless to say, some of us got this wrong and started way too far back - and perhaps some started too far forward as well.
The first three miles were on a closed country lane but the next three and a half were at the side of busy main roads and although the traffic seemed to be well behaved towards the runners, the fumes - particularly from a fleet of motor scooters with dodgy exhausts - were not pleasant at times. After 6.5 miles, there was an out-and-back section for a mile each way and what you thought of this seemed to depend on how well your race was going. Then it was a straight line for the last mile and a half to the finish at Thirsk Racecourse.
Weather conditions as well as the course were conducive to good times - witness Morpeth's Jonny Taylor destroying the field with a time of 48:45 at the front - and some of our runners recorded their best times for a few years as well as at least two knocking well over two minutes off their personal bests. Congratulations to David McGarry and Claire Calverley for such big steps forward and also to new member Joanne Stobbart for her first Grand Prix race.
Claire was first Blyth lady finisher and Robby Barkley (making a welcome return to competitive form after some injury woes) was first male back. With only 11 of our runners (numbers perhaps limited by the later inclusion of this race in the GP) spread out across the five divisions, there were not many close finishes, although most of the competitive action seems to have been in Division 3 where the four runners changed positions a few times between five and nine miles.
All in all, this is a well staged race and is not too bad for accessibility from Blyth (70 minutes each way) as well as being a fast course at a good time of year. Definitely one to keep on the list of potential future Grand Prix races.