KMR # 8 – Stan’s Toffee Run, August 2019 – Ben Hales

Horsing around in Elsecar

Sometimes slow and steady wins the race, but not always how you expect.

Five Harriers ran in the eighth of this year’s KMR races. This one is dedicated to the much-loved late Rotherham runner Stan Bagshaw, who would always hand out toffees after races.

Series stalwart Michael Plant was there of course, and Andrew Finch who came with me and Dave Langford, perturbed at Simon Rayner for turning up, as it meant he’d have to run hard. I wanted to save myself for the Supermile the next day so thought I’d take it easy. Maybe I’d just keep behind Finch and see how it went.

The start was an old railway line. Two furlongs along and we turned onto a road and started climbing. Plant was just in sight, and Finch had also pulled away from me. I stayed disciplined, saving energy.

The road up the hill was long. Then, an urgent shout from behind. Something wrong? No, probably just someone cheering.

Seconds later, the lead runners came hurtling back down. They’d gone the wrong way, and weren’t happy:

“There should have been a marshall!”

“For flip’s sake!”

“What’s the point now?”

Quite a lot of point for me! I’d gone from back Danum marker to leader. Time to get a move on!

I had no right to be there, running with the leaders back down the road and into the woods, where we should have turned before.

People previously far behind had also turned, getting in the way on the narrow trail. I pretended to be a fast runner and overtook whoever I could in the woodland mêlée.

I felt like Foinavon in the Grand National 1967, catapulted into the lead as nearly all horses fell and unseated their riders at the 23rd fence. In fact, loose horses would feature in this race too, but luckily again I missed any of that hindrance.

I leapfrogged a few steady-paced runners just before a stile. That was bound to slow more fasties down as they battled to get past.

Then, a long slog up a steep field with more stiles and a turnaround at the top.

I put in some effort, and near the top the leaders came charging back down. After I turned back I expected the likes of Langford, Rayner and Plant to be on my heels. But no, I was able to run down toward a fence and duck under it, with ascending runners queuing to climb over the stile, and then past the other Harriers coming up, about to spook some horses.

The rest of the race I just ran swiftly. A few runners passed me. I was just happy to be among the top twenty or so. Another wrong turn by some people in front of me meant I caught up more places.

Then the finish was in sight, and I finished the four-and-a-bit mile race as first Harrier with an amazing 35:30. We were all rewarded with a bag of toffees!