The Round Sh­effield Run

Split over 11 seg­ments, the one-day Round Sh­effield Run is a real stage star, says Scott Reeves

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

It’s hap­pened to us all. We’re slog­ging away on a run, when a thought pops into our head: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to stop and rest now? Just for a minute. Maybe two.’ It’s def­i­nitely hap­pened to me, so imag­ine my delight when I dis­cov­ered a race that de­manded I do just that. The Round Sh­effield Run cov­ers 24 kilo­me­tres of the city’s ex­cel­lent park­land and trails, but there’s a unique twist: the race dis­tance is ac­tu­ally 20km spread over 11 timed stages. Be­tween each stage is a re­cov­ery sec­tion, where run­ners walk a few hun­dred me­tres or so to the start of the next timed seg­ment. It’s the ag­gre­gate of the timed run­ning stages that cre­ates the fin­ish time, not the por­tions in be­tween. Which is how it should be.

‘As far as we know it’s a world first,’ says race di­rec­tor Doug Banks. ‘The con­cept was taken from en­duro moun­tain bik­ing, which has timed down­hill stages and un­timed trans­fer stages.’

This em­i­nently civilised ar­range­ment makes the Round Sh­effield Run the per­fect in­tro­duc­tion for those who want to try a longer race but have some doubts over their abil­ity to go the ex­tra few

miles. If you still aren’t con­vinced that you have the stamina to tackle 20km on your own, you can en­ter as part of a team of two, which al­lows the less con­fi­dent to have a run­ning buddy to en­cour­age or cajole them to the fin­ish line.

The race had a rolling start over two hours (each run­ner or pair of run­ners scan­ning a chip as they crossed the line); this meant that, thank­fully, there wasn’t the log­jam that of­ten be­dev­ils the first few me­tres (or kilo­me­tres) of a big race. The first stage was a pleas­ant can­ter through two parks and a wood. A few fam­i­lies and dog walk­ers nod­ded in greet­ing as I am­bled con­fi­dently past; it felt more like a train­ing run than the start of a race. Af­ter three kilo­me­tres we passed a mar­shal, who re­minded us to scan our chips be­fore walk­ing to the start of the next stage. I was be­gin­ning to feel this race was go­ing to be a dod­dle: I’d al­ready com­pleted the long­est stage; surely it would only get eas­ier.

If only. The sec­ond stage was omi­nously named Porter Val­ley As­cent. At first it took us grad­u­ally up­hill be­fore be­com­ing, to use Banks’ un­der­state­ment, ‘slightly more ag­gres­sive’. I tried to re­mind my­self that the stage was only half a Parkrun and forced my­self to keep inch­ing up the slope as the gra­di­ent be­came in­creas­ingly bel­liger­ent: I could have walked just as quickly and with con­sid­er­ably more dig­nity. At the re­cov­ery sta­tion I looked around for an oxy­gen can­is­ter but had to con­tent my­self with wa­ter, ba­nanas and jelly ba­bies.

Thank­fully, things got a lit­tle eas­ier af­ter that. I’d now com­pleted both the long­est stage and the steep­est stage and, by the end of stage four, I was al­ready more than half­way along. It helped that, as the route pro­gressed, the timed stages gen­er­ally be­came slightly shorter and the rest seg­ments slightly longer. The rou­tine of run, walk, run, walk felt a lit­tle bit like in­ter­val train­ing. How­ever, my legs were be­gin­ning to ache and I was well aware that they were go­ing to be sore in the morn­ing.

I passed the oc­ca­sional slower run­ner who had started a lit­tle ear­lier than I had, and I, in turn, was passed by a few speed­sters who had be­gun later. I wasn’t both­ered; I had set­tled into a com­fort­able pace sim­i­lar to that of run­ners around me. One par­tic­u­lar chap be­came a fa­mil­iar face. He over­took me on a run­ning stage, only to walk slower on the re­cov­ery sec­tion, so I started the next stage first; then he over­took me again. We con­tin­ued like this for three or four stages – I felt like his pace­maker, the Chris Chat­away to his Roger Ban­nis­ter.

The stages ticked by un­til all that was left was the fi­nal sec­tion, a 400m sprint through End­cliffe Park to the fin­ish line. It was time for an all-out charge, so I ig­nored my aching legs in one last at­tempt to gain as many places as pos­si­ble. Hav­ing said that (and done it), for all the at­ten­tion to tim­ing, ul­ti­mately this isn’t a race where your fin­ish time re­ally mat­ters. Great scenery, slick or­gan­i­sa­tion and a friendly at­mos­phere make this an event that’s ideal for those new to long dis­tances or run­ners who want to put on a stage show. The next Round Sh­effield Run is on 25 June. Visit round­sh­effiel­d­

DO THE ROUNDS Make no mis­take, you’ll feel the miles but the sur­round­ings make the ef­fort worth­while.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.