Photo: Zoe Illingworth
First, can we just say how much we love this photo by Zoe Illingworth, taken in the seemingly interminable queue for the start line at the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k. We had no idea she was taking it (clearly I go around grinning gormlessly all the time…) and only came across it when a friend forwarded it to us. It’s a proper backstage moment for us. No bluffing, no posing – this is really how much we enjoy running! Massive thanks to Zoe for sending it to us. It’s our new favourite photo by far. It’s a fantastic reminder of a really enjoyable day.
We love the Jane Tomlinson Appeal, whose Run For All side-arm organised the event . We’ll be running both the Great North Run and The Yorkshire Marathon to raise funds for the Appeal later this year. (Donations link to follow, of course!) There were definitely a few glitches in the Leeds 10k that need to be sorted out for future events. We shouldn’t forget though that the JTA races are great for rallying new runners and motivating them and us to raise money for worthy causes, which can only be a good thing.
There’s been some controversy about this Leeds 10k, not least the clumsy organisation at the start line. Ten thousand runners took part, with the vast majority of them, it seemed, all packed into a couple of streets with no clear time zones. Like everyone around us, we just followed the crowd until the road was so packed there was nowhere else to go. There have been complaints that the Corporate Challenge teams set off at the front at the same time as the elites and other speedy people, causing delays. We didn’t see any of that but it might explain why it took a full 10 minutes to cross the start line when we were less than 1 minute’s walk away!
The route for the Leeds 10k changed this year. In the past, it went out of town towards the leafy suburbs in the north of the city. It wasn’t exactly pretty but it seemed to work pretty well. I’ve ran the race several times before and volunteered on it for Macmillan last year and have never heard anyone grumbling about the route.
This year, it followed nearly-but-not-quite the route of its more serious cousin, the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash. I’m at a loss to understand why the route was changed. The old route was slower then the Abbey Dash, which is famous for its PB potential. But the Leeds 10k is more of a community event and, to my mind, shouldn’t set itself up as a rival the hard core running club race. There’s room for both and the Leeds 10k doesn’t need to compete. The route change seems to be a mistake; there’s nothing nice to see on the way, unless you’re one of those rare people who see ring roads, industrial estates and garage forecourts as attractive.
Having said all that, we really enjoyed the race. The atmosphere was lovely. I love races where lots of people are running for charity. The higher cause/better world thing about running – making a largely solitary pursuit a selfless one – brings tears to my eyes every time.
It was boiling hot – in the mid-20s celsius by the start of the race. This won’t mean much if you’re the Death Valley ultra marathon type but for people used to training in rainy England, where the mercury rarely rises to double digits, the temperature was torture.
There were clusters of people lining the route to cheer us on, though not as many in previous years, which is another downside of moving the race away from a populated area. There was a marked absence of the casual supporters who just wander out of their houses and bring the kids to high five the runners, which was a shame.
A major bonus at about 6k was the guy at the car wash who sprayed overheating runners down. Bliss! He looked so happy to be making people feel better too. It’s the little things…
We took it easy – no attempts at PBs in that heat – and, for the first time ever, ran separately after the first 5k. We both got personal worsts – Bibi at 54.35, me at 55.15 – but we did exactly what we planned to do, which was not to die of heat stroke so we were pretty pleased overall.
The technical tee is quite styling, though as ludicrously over-sized as ever. Race organizers of the world: how hard is it to get small tee-shirts that are actually small?! A bit surprised to get chocolate cakes in the goody bag for our recovery food. Given that this is a charity event promoting health awareness, the least they could do is provide some kind of healthy snack. The major sponsor is Asda… If you need some consultants on healthy post-race snacks, you know where we are, Asda!
Jo Stuart (Banners and Mash!) says
I love to read your various posts and wholeheartedly support your comments regarding the change of route. In my opinion it’s a fun event, not a ‘race’. The Abbey Dash is the place for a PB.
I love the fabric but the t-shirts are MASSIVE! Unisex small is NOT small.
Perhaps I’m alone but I’d happily go without the medal, preferring the money be redirected into the JT kitty.
Having said all that, it’s a great event and we love it. We particularly loved meeting you both at last!
All the best, GoJo & Masher, Banners and Mash.
Jayne Rodgers says
We love the Leeds 10k too. We had a fab time, think they have just some niggly little glitches to sort out. Overall, great, sweaty fun though – and fantastic to meet the two of you at the end! Twitter friends rule 😉
What a lovely, genuine photo at the start! 🙂
I’m always frustrated by unhealthy goodies in the bag afterwards. So many runners take up running because they’re interested in their health. They don’t want chocolate cake at the finish line (especially in mid-20 degree heat!) Or, like at one race I saw on a blog recently which was aimed at children and had unlimited burgers at the finish!
Jayne Rodgers says
The whole unhealthy food thing is very odd, isn’t it? There seems to be a real disconnect between the runners, who are trying to be healthy, and the sponsors of the goody bags, who are trying to sabotage them! Like we said in the post, Asda know where we are if they need any advice… 😉
The Leeds 10k was my first 10k run and first run in England in a year – I’ve been running in Australia for the last year. I really enjoyed your article – I thought the atmosphere was really fantastic & inspiring to see so many raising money for charity. I did find the slow start frustrating, I’ve previously regustered & started in zones, which I think would have been beneficial on Sunday, I tended to find those doing the corporate challenge struggled the most and walked a lot (so I had to dodge the walkers!). Saying that I thought it was really well organised on the whole, I ran a 15k in similar temps in Aus and one water station ran out of cups early on! A highlight for me was the steel band playing en route 🙂
Jayne Rodgers says
We do love the Leeds 10k – it’s fantastic to have an event this size in the city that’s open to all runners (and walkers!) I hope I didn’t sound too negative, it’s one of my favourite races! I think the route change led to other changes that caused some minor glitches but, yes, overall it was lovely. And you can’t beat a steel band! 🙂
Scott Leach says
I’ve often waxed lyrical about the JTs shortcomings, that said, I signed up for every one of their races this year, so it can’t be that bad!
I am all for their “run for all” philosophy and think it’s brilliant that they are encouraging everyone and anyone to run, however, I think there is room for the faster runners too; by making it a poor race from a faster runner’s point of view, they are alienating a large amount of people-no longer a “run for all”. It becomes a run for fun runners only and I think that’s a shame because there is room for everyone, if done right.
This year they have clearly had a think about these issues hence the side street to set off the corporate runners. Sadly, it didn’t really work. For a start, the pens were not properly organised, slow corporate runners got everywhere. Secondly there wasn’t enough of a separation, so the corps hit the race route too early, before all the faster runners had got through.
I came 155th overall so I missed them, but only just. Imagine your exasperation if you want to shave 30 seconds off your PB but you’re dodging 1000 slow corporate runners.
The situation has improved since the York JT last year when the faster runners lined up at the front, then 1 minute before the start they herded 50 asda runners in front of us. This is the reason that decent club runners ignore the JTs as fun runs.
Changing the route was an odd decision. If they wanted to give the race “PB potential” , I understand, however, what they did was a half-measure so it entirely failed. You either do it properly, or not at all! The old route was ugly as hell with no sights, so I’ll politely disagree that it made any difference on that front, one ugly route exchange for another!
They have got so much right with these races, the race village and atmosphere are brilliant, but it really wouldn’t take much to make it great for everyone!
I hear you on the t-shirt issue too- My 5ft 9 girlfriend is drowned by the “small” t shirt! Also, I thought the design on them fantastic this year, but what a shame they have chosen such ugly colours! On another point, it’s a shame that if you do all 4 of their 10ks (which I am) you end up with 4 identical medals, the only thing that is different is the ribbon. I realise that it’s to save money, but it’s a bit disappointing when they encourage you to do as many as possible!
Well, I’ve probably banged on far too long now!
Jayne Rodgers says
Thanks for your input (all of it! 😉 All this does make me wonder if the JTA has any experienced runners at their planning meetings. As you say, all of the ‘event’ aspects of the races work brilliantly (registration, atmosphere, warm up etc). It’s some of the bits that relate to running that cause problems. They are great events and I think your idea of making them accessible and worthwhile for all runners – from fun runners to those seeking PBs – is a valid one.
Maybe we should drop them a line – I’d happily give up some free time to help make these races as runner-friendly as possible…