It was hot. Properly, gloriously and very un-Englishly hot. The light and heat bounced off the white stone as underneath the gaze of the clock towers runners prepared, a kaleidoscope of rainbows and an overwhelming smell of deep heat and sun cream.
Driving over to Leeds that morning we’d watched the sun start to burn off the edges of the cloud, and thought what a lovely day it would be for a run, but the closer we got and the higher the thermometer rose, the more we knew it was going to be tough.
The Leeds half marathon was the first big race H signed up for this year; persuaded into it by his brother and sister-in-law and possibly the influence of a nice cool beer at the end of a long day. All the training, all the 10ks, that other half marathon, they were all about getting ready for this moment, and now the day had arrived.
They were nervous but ready and so with a final good luck we left our team wandering down through the finish to the start, and Kitty, Elma, Pip, the fully laden buggy and I hotfooted it down the hill to find a vantage point.
Because of the size of the race, the organisers had set up staggered starts, so by the time H started the elite runners were already 20 minutes down the road. His expected finishing time put him at the front of the pen and so we got to see him starting out at the front of the field (sort of). I think he enjoyed actually getting to see the start and being waved off with a giant Yorkshire flag.
We stayed perched up on our wall, shouting and clapping until we’d seen all of the team run through and then we went to discover what Leeds could offer us for entertainment first thing on a Sunday morning. We found a little shade in the gardens by St John the Evangelist and sat there for a while, letting the children run around and have a little snack to boost morale and then we went for a little wander, but before too long we found ourselves back at the finishing straight, a good hour and a bit before we expected H, but with plenty of time to secure ourselves a good spot.
The first of the elite runners were coming in as we got there and the atmosphere was starting to build. An uphill finish is tough at the best of times but on a hot day and with even some of the elite runners being helped along by race staff or fellow runners it was clearly a big ask. Only after the team finished did they tell us that there was a gantry just before the corner that they’d all thought was the finish but actually said “almost there” (now that’s just mean!) and turning the corner and seeing that final hill was asking them to give every last ounce of effort. The spectators on the finish rose to the occasion, cheering every name we could see, clapping and whooping and willing them onwards and upwards. We made great friends with another family stood next to us, Mummy and three boys a little older than my trio, and when their Daddy came through the combined cheering could have shook the glass from the windows. H wasn’t too far behind, clearly shattered but pushing himself step by step towards that magical word, “FINISH”.
We caught up with him a few minutes later, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tired at the end of a race.
Slowly but surely our team made it all back together again. They all did incredibly well, against heat, and tiredness and have every reason to be incredibly proud of themselves.
And what of my family PB for a half marathon? Well when we realised that H’s parents weren’t going to be able to make it over to the race I promised to take pictures, and decided to put together a little video of our Leeds Half Marathon that might just answer that question!
And on an unrelated note I am absolutely thrilled to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year – it makes me just about to burst with happiness and if you haven’t voted yet please do, all the details are here and voting is open until 27 May