A view from the pavement! The idea of racing the SPEN 20 had been discussed and dismissed as possibly too close to SALLY MALIR’s first marathon in Barcelona a fortnight later. However, wishing to support her daughters, running on the Saturday, her normal long run day, the race came back into consideration. With the marathon in mind the prerace plan was to run relaxed over the first 10 mile at near to training pace then push on over the second half of the event, hoping this would still be sufficient to win the age group award and perhaps a county medal.

With snow falling incessantly as the hardy competitors lined up I knew, having run the race 3 times myself, that conditions at the higher level would be even worse and that this was going to be a real test of character for them all. Could Sally transfer her off road tenacity to the road of West Yorkshire? The next two and half hours would tell!

With a number on the chest and in a competitive situation it takes a great degree of restraint to hold back to “training pace”. So it proved with Sally; setting off with “rival” Mary Harris (Valley Striders) who had beaten her in the Brass Monkey half marathon. Mary’s daughter, Sam, a 37 minute 10k runner was one of the first to drop out within the first 3 miles on the climb away from Cleckheaton. Meanwhile, Julie Mann from Wigan, quickly pulled away from Sally and Mary and opened up a considerable lead continuing to look strong despite the blizzard conditions as the field crossed over the M62.

Surprisingly, Mary Harris was the next to “throw the towel in” complaining of “sore feet”. A swift glance at her shoes with little or no cushioning was enough to explain why. Sally meanwhile soldiered on. Desperately trying to keep the leading lady in sight on the twisting course, she shared much of the work with Hugh Pearson of Otley, helping each other as the miles passed. Relentlessly they maintained the pace as many in front dropped out or buckled as the conditions took their toll. The snow contined to fall; runners’ hair and eyebrows turning white. With cap in place to stop the snow stinging the eyes, Sally went through 10 in 70 minutes; she was 5 minutes ahead of the plan! Now first Yorkshire woman but still in second place and the Lancashire lass showed no signs of letting up.

Gradually, however, over the next few miles the gap was beginning to shorten! 65 seconds, 48 seconds, 34 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds. As she came within 10 yards of the leader near the 15 mile point , I drove alongside and shouted, “straight past,don’t take any prisoners!” It was a needless comment. Sally had no intention of “tucking in”. Head down, she motored on past …and into the lead. Could she hold on? Hugh Pearson was still in touch behind and I encouraged him to get back with Sally in the hope that he would push her on over the last few miles. This he did, eventually finishing one place ahead of her in 32nd position. (2:20.22) Sally ran the second half as she had the first to register 33rd place overall in 2: 20.38. 1st lady overall and Yorkshire 20 mile champion for 2006!

Many members have expressed a great interest in Sally’s marathon build up. For the record she has one final speed session to do ten days before the race and that will climax a build up which has seen her run at least 6 times a week since October. Thanks to all the “Beamsley Bashers” (male and female) who have pulled Sally through the middle part of her long runs on Saturdays throughout the winter.

Barcelona? Let us hope it does not snow in Catalonia in the spring. But even if it does, I know one person who will just get her head down and plough through it with a smile on her face! No predictions; but hold the front page as they say.


Terry Lonergan