Gemma runs the Eccup 10

Before I joined Kirkstall Harriers I had no idea just how many race distances there were. I knew about marathons and half marathons, and I had heard of 10ks, even though I couldn’t quite get my imperial brain around just how far they were, but a 10-mile race was weird and wonderful to me.

By the time the Eccup 10 came round in July I had already done two half marathons so I went into it figuring I would be able to pick my pace up a little and set a benchmark time.

Organised by Abbey Runners the race takes in some quiet roads and stunning scenery around the north of Leeds. Starting and finishing in Adel, it has an “undulating” profile according to official information, but as far as I could tell it was decidedly hilly. With a race limit of 800 and an impressive 751 runners finishing in 2013 you can see how popular it is – if you get an entry you move hell or high water to take part!

As a mid-July Sunday morning race it has that unpredictable feel to it – the weather could go any which way it pleases. In 2013 the sun was beating down and it was unbelievably hot.

Race numbers are picked up on the day but, for reasons unknown given that the organisers knew exactly how many people to expect, the situation was chaotic and slow. The queues were all over the place and the hall too small to take so many people at once. And somewhere hidden in the corner was the bag drop. As a result of this madness, plus the associated slow-moving toilet queues, the race started around seven minutes late.

Once we got going though all went fairly smoothly. I heard reports that water stations, the first in particular, were not running very smoothly because more people than usual were needing to quench their thirst, but as I was near the back and the field had thinned out I didn’t encounter any problems.

I found the route to be very enjoyable. There were some good hills to get your teeth into – I even ran backwards up one of them for a bit of a change – and the views were spectacular in places, especially around Eccup Reservoir. Fortunately it wasn’t quite hot enough to melt the tarmac, but I did strip down to my sports bra at one point to try to even out the tan lines!

There was good support coming into the finish line and plenty of water, plus a fab bright orange technical t-shirt.

If you fancy a new challenge then a 10-mile race could be the perfect choice. And if it’s your first time at this distance then it’s an automatic PB no matter how quickly you go!

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