Three races in five days took me under the psychological 400-mile barrier last week, and although I wasn't fast in any of them there was more life in the legs than I've felt for a good few weeks. The 30th Rowbotham's Round Rotherham 50 (actually, it's 81.1km and I'm claiming the extra km) found every niggle, ache, injury and weakness from my bunioned toe to my arthritic neck. But I got round in a little over 11 hours, making it back for cottage pie and peas before it got dark - something I wouldn't have managed to do before 2009, when they ran this event in December, everyone but the regular diehards got lost at least once and the mud was legendary. I've done it three times now; this one was in pleasant sunshine and the mud was nothing compared with what I've seen on other events during this sodden summer that don't have reputation of Rotherham.
The circuit takes you through the opencast wasteland that is Orgreave, scene of the biggest confrontation between miners and police during the 1984-85 miners' strike. The same police force that fabricated statements, lied and tried to cover up the truth about Hillsborough was involved in exactly the same activities over Orgreave. I remember interviewing miners at the time who had been beaten senseless by the police and subsequently charged with riot and other offences (one joked bitterly about 'criminal damage to a truncheon'). They were all acquitted because the police evidence was found to be, at best, 'unreliable'.
The other two races were both 10-milers: the RAF Henlow road race, celebrating its 60th anniversary, and the Daventry Road Runners inaugural event. Given the way I've felt lately, times of 77.38 and 84.31 respectively felt positively pacy.