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by Curtis Parker-Milnes (CPM).
Morley’s been around for ages. So long in fact, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1087. It’s the birthplace of former prime minister H. H. Asquith, of Sir Titus Salt, and me. I spent the first couple of years of my life growing up next to Hunger Hill, one of the seven hills of Morley. It’s like Rome, really.
One thing that hasn’t been around so long is the Morley 10K. This is its second iteration in as many years and Morley Running Club are doing a fantastic job in terms of showing that there’s more to Morley than a left-behind town that hasn’t kept up paces. Certainly, that used to be my view as a Morleian who grew up in the next village, until I moved back here six years ago.
Another thing that Morley Running Club have done a fantastic job of is showcasing those aforementioned hills. Although the route doesn’t quite cover all seven of them, it packs a hefty 150 m of elevation gain across the 10K. The design of the course is essentially an amalgamation of out-and-backs which never sounds appealing, however the elevation changes and incredible crowd support make the route pass by quickly.
It’s a grim climb from the final turnaround; there’s just short of 3 km left at this point and only a slight bit of relief as one passes the 9 km marker. That is only designed to lull you into a false sense of security, of course. The last 600 m features a 200 m drag up a 10% gradient (Dawson Hill), before levelling off at ~3% for the final 400 metres.
There are three separate points that runners pass through Morley Bottoms; just before 2K, 5K, and just after 9K. The atmosphere this Sunday morning at Morley Bottoms was electric. The last climb was menacing, but as we marched onto the final straight there was a Tour de France feel as the entire high street was lined with spectators, with only space for only four or five runners.
For me, it’s my first road race in many years. I set out with a plan A of 52 minutes. Knowing how tough it would be, I planned my pacing strategy based on the elevation. I managed to keep up to it and finished in a time of 51:36, which I’m elated with. Shoutouts also need to go to the effervescent Mike Vargas who finished 10th (chip time 36:13), to Ruth Draisey who finished first of 63 in the FV35 category with an exceptional chip time of 40:14, and to Clare Evans who paced 65 minutes with expert accuracy.
There were 11 other Hyde Park Harriers in attendance for the Morley 10K 2023. I hope that number will be much higher in 2024; this is one of the best local races around.