WHEN I arrived at the Spencer’s Dash, a local 3.5 mile race, there were two queues. One for the seasoned professionals who had taken part in the race previously, and one for the first timers, the newbies who didn’t have a clue what they were letting themselves in for.
‘I’m a first timer,’ I told the lady sitting at the computer.
‘Never!’ Someone from Barnsley AC was shouting behind me. ‘You mean you’ve never done this race before?’
I shook my head. ‘No.’
‘No.’ I shook my head again.
‘Well, you’ve missed out.’
I wasn’t so sure. I’d been to watch this race before so I knew it was hilly. Bence Lane is quite a climb. Then there’s the hill towards Cawthorne. The race even finishes on a hill. There’s also a fast, downhill start. I didn’t fancy that either.
For three years since joining my club, I’ve avoided this race. Was it the hills? Was it the sprint start? I’m not entirely sure. There was just something about the Spencer’s Dash that made me dig my heels in and not want to take part.
This year, my club, Kingstone Runners, has embraced the Spencer’s Dash. It’s listed as one of the races in the club championship, which means I needed to take part. The race series finishes in September so I also needed to do it sooner rather than later.
Wednesday was the day! I even got into the club spirit and wore my club vest. I love running for my club, but the vest is the worst-fitting garment I have ever had to wear. It’s too short and I’m too long. It’s a combination that doesn’t really work. I look ridiculous in it. I was so pleased I wore it though because half the field were Kingstone runners. It was a fantastic turnout.
I ran with friends, all of us together. It reminded me what running is actually all about. Good laughs and good fun. Although, from my face I don’t look like I’m having much fun at all. My friend Jayne was just crossing the line after pushing herself for a personal best. She smashed it by a good few minutes. I was getting a bit emotional, because I’m an emotional type and have a terrible tendency to cry. I was really proud of Jayne. Before the race she said that her PB would be hard to beat, but she annihilated it!
Afterwards, we headed to the bar for a drink and some post-run analysis.
‘What did you think?’ Chris asked. ‘Have you changed your mind about it?’
I thought about it for a few seconds. I thought about the hills and the fast start. It had been hard enough jogging round the course, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to race it flat out. I’d also enjoyed it. I liked the camaraderie. I liked the challenging course. I particularly liked the drinks in the bar afterwards. But despite all this, there is still something about the Spencer’s Dash that I’m not sure about.
‘You’ll have to do it again,’ Chris said.
I took a sip of my drink. ‘You know what,’ I said. ‘I think I will.’