On Sunday 5 November 2017 hordes of runners from South Leeds descended on the city centre to run to Kirkstall Abbey and back as fast as they possibly could. The race was the Abbey Dash and is a fairly flat out and back 10k course.
It was a cold a frosty morning when everyone assembled for pre-race pictures, but that would soon change. Everyone compared expected times, levels of fitness and nerves whilst milling around various parts of the city. The Lakers could be found in Park Square and the Sisters were loitering with intent to run in front of the Town Hall. I, and a couple of others went between the two groups. There were also members of the newly formed Morley Runners there.
The runners were divided into starting pens according to predicted time. On entry runners have to fill in how long they expect to take to complete the race so it is quite important that the time is correct, although I have been assured that they are not strict about the runners being in the allocated starting pen.
Over 8,000 people set off to “Smash the Dash” and finish times ranged from 29:13 to 2:11:37. There were over 30 South Leeds Lakers and South Leeds Sisters. Both are established running clubs in the South Leeds area. They can usually be found on a Saturday morning hanging out at Cross Flatts parkrun. If anyone wants more information they are very approachable and supportive. There are also clubs in Middleton and Morley who I’m assured are just as lovely. Most of the members of Morely Runners are relatively new to running and signed up for a couch to 5K programme so this is a massive achievement for them.
The route started on the site of the old international pool and headed onto Wellington Street where the official start was located. At this point it was pretty cold but I soon warmed up. Having never done this race before, I expected it to be a colder version of the Leeds 10K. The route was very similar but there was much less support along the way.
As usual the speedier runners passed in the opposite direction and were cheered along by us just setting out. There were a few familiar faces and I shouted out to some of them, breath and memory allowing. I did hear my name called a couple of times as well but was so focused on staying alive that I missed some too.
It was hard passing the usual turning point at Kirkstall Morrisons but I kept on plodding along. I soon arrived at the halfway mark and was comforted by the fact that it was all downhill until the very last stretch. As I turned the corner I was hit in the face by the hot sun. I could barely see on the way back so have no idea if I saw anyone I knew, very unlikely as I was the last Laker home.
It was very quiet from 5K to around 8K, there were some supporters but not nearly as many as I have seen in the summer. The last uphill was not a surprise and being prepared made it easier, there were more supporters at this point including a lot of runners that had already finished. Rounding the final corner brought a pleasant surprise; the finish line was slightly closer than other races that finish there. The flat finish and the crowds are a good incentive for a sprint finish and I did my best, overtaking a few people on the last few yards.
This race had its good points and bad but I would probably do it again just for the social aspect. A lot of the runners go to the pub for “rehydration” and food after which is a definite bonus.
This post was written by Amanda Binns using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.