Race Report 11/08

In normal circumstances, Harriers would be busy this week putting final touches to this year’s Sessay Swift 6k, which would have been its 9th running on Aug 19th.  Like most other events, coronavirus has forced the cancellation of what had become a very popular event.  The race evolved because, like climbing Everest (not as hard, maybe,) it’s there!  The circular route lends itself to a race, and the 6k happened because, just to go right round was longer than the usual 5k and shorter than 10k.  To have a 5k would have meant starting near the church if we were to finish at the Village Hall where facilities and parking were based.  6k was just the length it was, and there were several comments at the beginning about “Mickey Mouse” race!  Traffic is always very light, and police approval was gained, as well as Highways.  The first year, 2012, we had 66 finishers, the next year, 80 and then 109, and it has increased in popularity year on year so that last year there were 254 finishers.  A computer literate friend developed a system and sorted out the results for several years, but last year as the race was growing bigger, chip timing was introduced, which means that no matter where you start, you get the time it actually takes you to run.

Runners, right from the beginning, have come from a wide area, and the winner the first year, in a time of 19.48 minutes, was Aidan Adams of Leeds City, with Hester Cox of Thirsk and Sowerby being 1st lady in 25.07.  Winners in the men’s race have come from Richmond and Zetland, Billingham Marsh House, and Harrogate Harriers, and the winner last year, in a course record time of 18.22 minutes was John Ashcroft from Leeds City.  Winning ladies have been from Richmond and Zetland (Shona Fletcher two years running, 2013 and 2014, when she set a course record of 21.14), Ripon Runners who always send a big contingent, Saltaire Striders, Thirsk and Sowerby again in 2018 in the guise of Olivia Mulligan, and last year’s winner,  from Rotherham AC.

Helpers have generally come from friends and family, so that members who wanted to run were able to, though they provided invaluable help before and after the race with setting and clearing up, car parking, marking out the course, and any other jobs which needed doing.  When it became a Club Championship race, it was more important then ever that members could run if they wanted to, and about 35 of them did last year.  Sessay Cricket Club over the years has given a lot of help, with first Brian Flintoff and then his son John, keeping an overall eye, especially on car parking, which is a big issue at any race.  Last year, John suggested the cricketers put on a barbecue, which was hugely popular, and it was hoped it would be repeated  this year.  The Village Hall has made a superb headquarters, and thanks to their committee for making it available, and the tolerance and support of villagers has been very much appreciated.

Hopefully, in happier and more “normal” times, the race will be held on Aug 18th 2021, but if you want to have a run round this year, it will be marked out on the road from Aug 12th.  Help yourself!

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