Race Report - Snake Lane 10 Mile 2023 by Matthew Roberts
I’m ashamed to admit that Snake Lane wasn’t a race I’d heard of until last year. In 2022 Carl Truscott had originally entered it, but due to injury (left arse cheek, so I’m told!) had transferred his place to wife Liz, even though 10 miles was a distance she’d never run before. Not only did she finish the race with a very respectable time, but also with a glowing recommendation that Snake Lane was a race we should all enter as a club in 2023. Now, I’m not saying Liz Truscott has an influence over Morley Running Club, but from just six MRC members running it last year, we now had a whopping 25 of Morley’s finest all eagerly lined up on the startline for 2023! It was one of those bitterly cold mornings, where a proper warm up served a double purpose… not only to get the muscles ready for what’s to come ahead, but also to get some heat into my shivering body. The intermittent sunshine was a very welcome sight, but I could also see there were some fairly angry looking rain clouds looming in the distance. And as we all gathered together for our team group photograph we were treated to a spectacular rainbow, which I took as a sign that we’d be in for a special race. In the days leading up to the race I had pondered on how I should run it. As I’m currently training for the Leeds Marathon in May, my Sundays have been strictly reserved for very conservatively-paced plods along very flat canal routes at increasing distances, which have served me well up until now. So the big decision was do I treat this race as another Sunday long run and just run it at an easy pace whilst enjoying the scenery, or do I go all out and try to beat my current 10 mile PB which I’d previously set during last year’s Leeds Half Marathon. My decision was still not fully made, even as I joined the crowds of runners descending on the streets of Pocklington all heading towards the startline, so sensibly I decided to position myself in the middle of the crowd, rather than navigating myself towards the front as I would normally do on a race day. I could see the usual speedy suspects were taking their places up at the front, Rochelle, Carl, Rachel, Rob, Joel, and I wondered if I’d made the right decision starting so far back. But, it was now out of my hands as I was truly wedged in shoulder to shoulder with the mass of runners. As the klaxon sounded to start the race, my finger eagerly hovering over the start button on my Garmin, I suddenly realised we weren’t even moving… if I’d started near the front I’d be well on my way by now, but so far back we were still only walking at zombie-pace towards the inflatable start post due to the huge bottleneck. But eventually we were on our way and straight away I had adopted a comfortable pace which I knew I could easily maintain for the 10 mile duration. The first kilometre went by very quickly, and I was happy with my easy paced Sunday long run with great views over the Yorkshire Wolds with the added buzz of other runners and some great spectators. By kilometre number 4, I’d slowly caught up to John Keighley, and ran alongside him for a while. We chatted about how the first 4kms were already behind us and that we were already a quarter of the way through the race, which came with a reply from a runner in front of us who looked over his shoulder and replied “that’s some great positivity right there!”. He seemed to be struggling even so early in the race, so seemed to welcome the news. With my watch beeping at me to mark each kilometre benchmark, I eventually hit 8km and knew I was exactly at the halfway point. Up until now I’d kept a very steady pace, my heart rate and breathing were very much under control, and my legs felt great, even though I’d slowly been advancing through the pack of runners who’d started ahead of me. My marathon training was certainly paying off, I literally felt like those first 8kms were a warm up, and wondered if a PB might still be a possibility. My thinking was, if I treated the second half of the race as a slightly longer parkrun, would I still be able make up the lost time? I remember thinking “Just do it, what is there to lose, I’ve never felt so pumped up in the middle of a race before. Right lets go for it..!!” It really was a race of two halves for me. Probably the best I’ve ever paced a race before too, as I’m normally a sucker for blasting out of the blocks and regretting it as I cling on for dear life. I’d now significantly increased my pace, my watch was showing an average pace of 4:08/km for kilometre number 10, and I could certainly feel my heart rate had risen to around 80% of its max, and breathing had become more intense. It felt great however, I was passing everyone ahead of me, including some Morley shirts who’d also started ahead. The views were spectacular, and the country lanes certainly did snake, as the race name suggested. I was buzzing, other runners would give me encouragement as I passed them, and soon I’d caught up to someone who’s back of his head I recognised, even though he wasn’t wearing a Morley RC shirt. It was Craig Whiteley, famous for his trademark “Craig dance” all over social media. I jokingly said “lets do the dance now” as I passed him, and we both did the silly arm movements! That little bit of humour gave me another little boost, and off I went again. With less than a parkrun to go I could just about make out in the distance another Morley runner… those shirts are very distinctive! And he was wearing the brightest orange pair of shoes you’ve ever seen. “I recognise him, that’s Joel!” Ok, target identified, let’s see if I can catch him before the finish. Full concentration, tricking my brain into thinking its only a parkrun, I really needed to up my pace. My heart rate is now at maximum, but I know I’ve still got a few more kilometres in the tank, and sure enough, I’m closing Joel down as those bright orange shoes get closer and closer. We must be near Pocklington, I recall thinking, as I can see a very low glider circling to land at the nearby airfield. My concentration is now watching the glider in the sky, I’ve forgotten about Joel, but then my watch beeps at me for the final time to indicate one more kilometre to go. If this was a parkrun I’d be pulling out all the stops and ignoring the pain, so one final push as we enter the streets of Pocklington, which were lined with spectators all cheering us on. That’s the part I really love about road racing, those cheers are worth an extra 10 seconds or so. Eventually, we turn the final corner and are greeted with the sight of the finishing posts up ahead, so I give literally everything I have left for a sprint finish that even Paul Wade would be proud of! So, I didn’t quite catch Joel, but I did get my 10 mile PB. I was so elated. To think I started the race at an easy pace, whilst having multiple conversations with other runners, I was super happy with my time. And a great medal awaited us at the end too… making up for the disappointment of TNT10 where the medals were missing this year! I certainly learned a very valuable lesson about pacing, less definitely is more. I’ll certainly never be charging off the line like a greyhound in future races, I now know I can trust that the time will be made up later in the race. Really looking forward to Snake Lane next year. For me, this was the best race I’ve done for lots of reasons… the spectacular views, the fantastic support, the incredible organisation, but most of all, having the best clubmates to run with and support each other. I’m always so proud to wear the maroon shirt.