Spen 20 – [tarmac warning]

I know, I know, its not exactly a Lakeland classic but its sort of hilly and some of the tarmac does have tufts of grass pushing up through it in places. Despite that, I know this will earn me a withering response from Finny in CAPITAL LETTERS.
The Spen 20 is a testing 20 miler run around Cleckheaton and Liversedge in more or less two loops. A lot of runners use it for marathon training but if you don’t mind doing some ups and downs on winding, quiet roads, it’s a great little race. Martin Landells and I were the only P&B runners there amongst the lean looking roadies, and I was regretting a very long day watching the rugby in Cardiff the day before. 75,000 Welsh and Irish fans added to an amazing game, but like most of them I made full use of Cardiff’s hostelries before and after the match and was feeling a bit fragile on the start line.
Spen 20

Alex – pink winter gloves retired for springtime gloves and summer vest. (Photo c/o Spen AC)

On the gun, Martin and I set off in the middle of the pack. We’ve run here before and knew that on this course it pays to bide your time. Martin also knows that it pays to avoid tripping over roadworks at mile 3. A couple of miles in and the climbing starts. At this point, yesterday’s Welsh fans’ soulful renditions of “Bread of Heaven” were reverberating around my head as “Beer of Satan”, but bit by bit I began to feel stronger. In fact I was worried that I’d gone off too fast and it would all fall apart. I’d lost Martin and in the past he has sometimes trotted past me with 3 miles to go as I hobble towards the finish. But this never happened, and I managed to gradually work through the ranks. Martin was also plugging away, pacing consistently as always knowing that he’d be picking up places later on.
Spen martin

Martin – wrists intact! (Photo c/o Spen AC)

By about 8 miles we were both going well. By 14, I was sure that no amount of energy drink or gels is half as good as the distilled goodness of an acre of malt and hops. I’d lose ground on some of the grinding hills, but was taking lumps out of people on the downhills, maybe because they were all used to running on tarmac flatter than a bowling green. I headed into the last couple of miles knowing a steep downhill awaited, and bagged a couple of places, and then another on the final lap of the stadium at the finish to come in 10th. Martin also had a strong finish and came in 36th, just outside his time of last year despite coming back from injury.
I’m not used to getting any kind of prizes, but 2nd V35 (I’m not even sure this is a proper category) got me £25 in vouchers. Helpfully, this is about a third of the speeding fine I got trying to get to the start on time.
Overall winners:
John Hobbs, Valley Striders, 1.59.30
Shona Fletcher, Richmond and Zetland, 2.06.26
Alex Jones 2.06.01 (10th, 2nd Vet 35)
Martin Landells 2.14.03 (36th, 5th MV50) *
P&B (sort of)
Richard Pattinson P&B Horsforth 2.02.09 (6th, 1st V50)
* = Martin’s taking this as a victory because he didn’t fall over at mile 3, run the other 17 and finish needing a wrist surgeon and assorted metalwork in his wrist this time


  1. March 19, 2015
  2. March 22, 2015

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