Yorkshire Vets Grand Prix series – first 4 Races summary.

Report by Vets Captain Neil Stabbs.

It’s almost halfway through the year and we’re now 4 races into the 9 race Yorkshire Vets Grand Prix series. After the season’s first race at Honley in April, we’ve since had races at West Park and Kirkstall in Leeds and at Mulgrave Castle, just north of Whitby. It’s fair to say that clashes with the Summer League have kept attendance down, but we’ve seen some good performances from new and returning members so far.


West Park has been used as a venue for the West Yorkshire XC League in recent years, so many runners will be familiar with the area. The Vets race uses a slightly different course, linking together West Park and Beckett Park with a section of hilly woodland tracks. It’s a shorter race than some of the other Grand Prix events at 5 miles, but definitely packs a punch. Two of us chose cross-country instead of the roads of Easingwold, with Pete Downes finishing 40th and me finishing 9th.


The Kirkstall race took a route along the Aire Valley followed by a loop of Bramley Fall Park and was a mix of fast road running with a couple of tough climbs thrown in. The pace was fast from the start with some big gaps forming between the leaders along Abbey Road. Dave Smithers, in his first vets race for the club, stayed within sight of the leaders and then worked his way through in the second half to finish 2nd overall and 2nd M40. After a slightly over-exuberant start, I lost ground on the leaders before dropping a couple of places on the park loop to finish 7th and 1st M35.


The most recent of the races was the Loftus & Whitby race at Mulgrave Castle, a great chance to combine a run with some post-race fish and chips. This event was run alongside the Mulgrave Castle 10k, with the vets setting off about 5 minutes after the standard race start, meaning we had a good number of other runners to pick off on the way round. It ranks as one of the hardest and hilliest 10k races I’ve done (along with the Castleton Show Race, also in the North York Moors), but I’d recommend to anyone for next year – either as part of the main race or the Yorkshire Vets event. We had 4 Knavesmire members running with John and Margaret Oliver, Pete Downes and myself, along with Sarah Attwood (not a vet!) who finished 4th lady in the main race. John took the honours as 1st M60 and I was 2nd M35.


In the overall series, I’m currently sitting in second place overall and first in the M35 category, although with Will Kerr of Saltaire Striders having done one race less than me at present, that’s not a situation I expect to hang on to until the end of the series! The next event will be either Alwoodley or Crossgates (more info to follow) in July, both great off-road courses on the edge of Leeds. With no more Summer League clashes to worry about, I hope to see you there.

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