Last year, Jodie, myself and a couple of other club mates ran the Bramley 20/10 – a pair of races in Bramley (near Basingstoke) organised by Reading Roadrunners. This year, we wanted to do it again. Jodie and I live quite locally so its easy for us to get to, but also we really enjoyed it last year. It was really well organised and had great marshals with some decent support for a local race.
It’s a 10 mile loop, run twice for the 20 mile race, and is great timing for those doing spring marathons or halves. It’s also a pretty flat course, with only a couple of climbs at mile 6 (and 16) and 8 (and 18). Last year, I ran a massive 10 mile PB.
This year, the club brought a slightly bigger contingent of mainly spring marathoners (Jan, Dave, Mary) looking to use it as good training, but with a couple of them looking for a speedy 10 (Simon and Mark). Mary was late so couldn’t make the pic below.
Jodie and I were doing the 20 and I was happy that regardless of my time I’d at least be setting a PB as it was my first race at this distance. That said, my intention for the race was to run it at my target marathon pace. That’s < 7.04 per mile (For a sub 3.05). I was far from convinced I would get it, but I knew if I could get to the 16 mile point (first climb on the second lap) I may be able to ease off the hills and speed up a bit for the downhill last mile or so. That was the plan at least. I joked on Strava beforehand that I may be crumpled in a heap by 16 miles, but it wasn’t that much of a joke. Given how my previous marathon pace sessions had left me, and that was only running 10 miles (of 16) at MP. It was a real concern.
There are two parking areas, one was half a mile from the start, the other was a mile. Both quite chunky walks. Last year we parked in the farther, but this year we were wise and drove straight past it and got in the nearer one. It was £2 in either car park, and the organisers did a lot to prevent local aggravation by putting up signs anywhere that was LIKELY to be parked, a hi-vis “No Race Parking” sign.
The race village was very busy, with the queue for the toilets being as long as any other queue I’ve seen at a race (loooooong) but its part and parcel of most races now. You can have enough toilets for one per entrant and there would STILL be a queue!
The start zone was pretty much unrestricted, though there were signs suggesting to people where to start based upon their estimated finish time. One of the benefits of this race is that it’s mostly experienced club runners and people with multiple races under their belts – so most have a good idea of their estimated finish times.
We exchanged some race strategies in the start pens before Jodie headed backwards, and the 10 milers headed forwards. Before long there was a shuffle forward, and without too much fanfare, we were off. I managed to find my pace pretty quickly (it was a little fast) and I could see Simon and Mark ahead running together.
The route is a bit of a lopsided bowtie. There is a pinch point in the middle at about 2 miles in (out) and 9 miles in (back) where runners pass each other very briefly. It was a gentle climb up til the pinch point, where we were lucky enough to have Mac and Lauren cheering us on. When you reach the pinch point, you head out on a big loop around Strathfield Saye.
There are water stations at 3,5, and 8.5 miles on the route, excellently attended by I think local army cadets – they did a brilliant job. Unfortunately the water was in cups which I’m not a fan of but the “pinch and funnel” technique worked ok. They did have an isotonic option but I wasn’t sure what it was so didn’t try it.
I caught Mary in her Bristol and West top after around 4 miles who explained she as late, but I wanted to keep my pace so didn’t have much time for a chat.
It levels off a bit after that up until 6 mile where there is a bit of a lengthy climb up to the main road. I remember it levelling off after that, but I think I looked back with rose-tinted glasses, as from 5.5 – 8 it just seemed to be a very gentle uphill all the way along!
From there, there’s a little dip with a sharp uphill followed by a gentle downhill all the way back to the start finish. Passing the pinch point our supporters were out in force, and it was a good little spectating area, many people had the same idea to support there. Just as I passed it, the lead car went by – so it was about 3 miles ahead of – they were shifting!
Passing by the start/finish I saw Mark and Simon – I managed to hear they ran 65 minutes for the 10 mile! Great running! After the race I heard they ran together for the whole race and had a relentless sprint finish for the end – with Simon just coming out on top by a fraction of a second (Though the chip times report the same time – 65.41). They took down my club record by just over a minute!
I headed into the second lap feeling OK. It suddenly became very lonely though! From running in a reasonable group of people, as I crossed the start/finish line I was running alone with no-one for 20 yards in front or behind. This made it a bit tougher.
I was pleased I’d sustained the pace and my next goal was the get to 12 miles, as 12 @ MP was the intended session for the day. Then I targeted getting to the HM point. Then 14. Then 15 as it was 75% distance, and then 16, my last gel point. I also knew that the first bigger hill would be done by then. And the hills did seem MUCH harder the second time round!
It was around 16 miles my right calf started cramping up periodically too. It was JUST about manageable and only became a real problem after the 19 mile mark. I knew I was tight for time so tried to shake it off. I maintained my pace and overtook quite a few people in the last couple of miles and came home briskly, on target, in 2.20.44. I was absolutely delighted!
Shortly after that came Jan in with 2.28.26…
Followed by Mary in 2.32.04…
Dave in 2.33.59…
And Jodie in 3.14.37.
As with every good race was a goody bag. This year in a decent reusable canvas tote bag. It had a medal (Which was the same as last year, disappointingly) some snacks, some drinks and you could also get a banana and a milkshake (I had 2!).
All in all, a good haul from a good race at a reasonable price. Thank you, Reading Roadrunners!
My Race Analysis
To say I was pleased with how my race went would be an understatement. I really wasn’t sure I’d get anywhere near my target, especially as I was still suffering from the back-end of a cough/cold. I managed to keep my splits pretty consistent and if it weren’t for the hills on the second lap, I may have even managed a negative split! Unfortunately they just took too much out of me.
Finishing, I felt like I could have done another mile or two at that pace and whilst I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable, I do think another 10k at that pace is achievable.
This puts me in a terrific position for London. Bang on target pace (If a little too close for comfort!) But with 9 weeks left to go and the fact that the course is flatter and incredibly well supported, I have loads of confidence.