When I held two charity balls in 2011 as part of the tenth anniversary year, I auction off a promise to complete any challenge to the highest bidder at each. At the northern ball the highest bidder was Steve Hadley, a fellow Beverley AC runner, and the challenge was to run a 10K backwards. The preferred race wasn’t viable so we went for our own clubs Walkington 10K.
The only other time I ran the race in 2007, it tipped it down on the night. So 2012 brought about a downpour in the run up. However, the rain did cease before we started and just left it wet underfoot. Steve and I were joined by Tony Hunter, another of the club, who wanted to support Cystic Fibrosis Trust as he has two nephews who’ve suffered CF, one of whom died of the condition at age 15. We also had a forward runner, Alex, who ran Hull and Lisbon Marathons with me. He had the role of leading us forward on the route.
We started at the back of the field of over 500 runners with the aim of running together and beating at least one runner going forwards! We had plenty of applause as we headed off and were the last runners from the word go. By mile one we had around 50 metres gap from the last main runner and were beginning to feel the pain of what we were doing. As we headed up the hill for mile 2, we began to drift with Steve making ground and the back marker (who cycles behind the last runner), Steve Parkinson, staying with Steve (Hadley) whilst Alex toggled between Tony and I. We also had the “sweep” vehicle behind collecting the mile markers etc.
By mile 2 my legs felt horrendous and I was seriously wondering how I’d get round. Steve was disappearing into the distance and Tony had made a bit of ground on me. Was I to be last!? We turned the corner into a long straight heading for Little Weighton and I finally settled into my stride, allowing my muscles to feel slightly less traumatised. At mile 3 Tony stopped to tie his shoe laces. In a momentum I carried on, expecting him to catch m again shortly. I followed the white line on the roadside as a guide, knowing it was straight until the village. However, Tony and Alex stopped longer than expected and I was on my own – Steve well out of sight by now!
The guys in the sweep vehicle came to the rescue at this point – and Trevor Turnball (another club member) jumped out and ran after me to then run the rest of the route as my guide. A lifesaver is all I can say! As we entered the village he guided me round parked cars, down a hill and as we changed direction. This is when I noticed the muscle groups being alerted by every change in gradient as we went up and down and the corners caused slight disorientation as well. Tony was still in sight as we headed out of the village and round the double bends over a hill and drop down again.
Through mile 4 and into a straighter flatter section before another drop down. As we dropped Trevor could see Steve on the horizon at mile 5 – he had gained quite a gap and Tony was some way behind us having seemed to lost more pace. Trevor kept me going, chatting away while I was acutely aware of my muscles as we dropped down into he dip and climbed up past mile 5. I was at least maintaining a consistent pace of 13 minute miles if everything else seemed inconsistent!
Mile 1 and starting a hill climb
And we’re off -Lucas, Tony, Steve and Alex
Tony was arriving in the dip as we headed over the horizon – the last hill done with. We turned back into Walkington and I felt further disorientated as we dropped slightly down a gentle slope and onto he footpath through the 6 mil point. Steve appeared to have finished during this section from the loud announcement on the tannoy. He had actually finished in just over 1hr 18 mins. I had to really trust Trevor along the footpath, where he tried to get me to keep tight to him to avoid pedestrians, stinging nettles and stay on the path – while I got slightly frustrated hen I couldn’t see him if he moved fractionally too far forwards – never have I realised how trust is so valuable. We turned the corner onto the playing field – met by applause and Sam Allen on the PA. The field was very muddy – an added hassle to not seeing where you’re going and I’d nearly lost my balance on the corner – changing direction was now a huge challenge. We turned as we rounded the field and made the final straight – Steve having joined me to run in with me. I’d made it! 1:25:28 – the slowest 10K I reckon I’ll ever run! Trevor literally had to catch me as I stopped and my body’s momentum and balance kept going!
The k01 sdrawkcaB/Backwards 10K - Walkington 10K 2012
Finally crossing the finish line!
After a few moments I regained some sense of balance on my own and was shocked to realise few people actually left as even the presentations had happened! A few minutes later Tony appeared and Steve and I headed round the field with him (we went forwards!) – Tony was thankful it was over and as disorientated as we were – 1:32 is a long time going the wrong way! Once we’d gained enough balance we had a group picture to mark our achievement. It lived up to being a challenge and we were very pleased for the donations made on the night.
Huge thanks to Steve for the challenge and donating at the auction and massive thanks to Tony for voluntarily joining us – our finish positions were also backwards as Tony could usually be first of the three of us and Steve last. Thanks also to our guides – Alex throughout and remaining chirpy despite the slow pace, Steve Parkinson for keeping an eye on Steve and to Trevor for using his initiative to ensure I was ok! Never again will I run such a distance backwards – my muscles knew all about it the next few days – many being muscles I didn’t know existed!