Tag Archives: 10k

Vitality London 10,000 2016: Race Report

I’d booked this race many months ago, as I had such a great time in the 2014 staging of the event. It’s a popular 10k held in London, with the race assembly area on the Mall right in front of Buckingham Palace and the finish on “Spur road” – the last corner of the London Marathon – taking in many popular landmarks along the route.

Waking up on Monday morning, I quite frankly couldn’t have been in a fouler mood. I’d had a few bad runs in the week leading up to the race, my legs weren’t playing ball and I thought I’d actually run slower than my PB – a time I had since beaten as part of both Bramley 10m and the Cardiff World Half Marathon!

We arrived late, the weather was overcast and I needed the loo. And the queue was predictably enormous. It all felt like a bit of a waste of time and money. Not only for the entry, but the fuel, the parking and the train.

With all that in mind though, there we were, Jodie and I, plus Imogen, Lauren’s friend who was running her first 10k. Jodie was planning to run with Imogen all the way,  which given that she’s 7 and a half months pregnant was probably a wise choice!

We went our separate ways before I went to the toilet stop as I was in a different wave and needed to check my bag. The toilet queue made me stress even more but actually moved quite quickly, and I made it into the start pen with about 10 minutes to spare.

Before long, and without too much fanfare, we were off.

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My strategy was to target about 6.45 pace which would have been sub-42, a 45 second PB. I didn’t think I’d get it, but I figured at the worst I’d still fall inside the PB even if I slowed up.

The course itself differed this year from when I ran it in 2014. There was more running through buildings and no running on the Embankment, which was a bit of a shame as that was one of my favorite parts of the course as it took in basically the last 2 miles of the London Marathon.

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2014 Course
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2016 Course

The course is advertised as predominantly flat, though I found the profile actually quite odd. I had no feeling like I was really running uphill at all at any point of the race, but there were certainly some fast downhill sections. Looking at the course profile it looks like there was a lot of climbing in the first mile – thankfully I didn’t notice it! According to Strava, there was 161ft elevation gain in total.

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During that race we ran through Trafalgar square, the theatre district, past St Paul’s Cathedral… not that I saw any of them. I DO remember passing Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Birdcage Walk though.

Aside from my personal preference of the “sights en-route” being better on the old course, the biggest problem with the ne course was the narrowness of the course after Trafalgar Square. Running down the Strand was VERY congested right up until we got to Aldwych were it seemed to open up, but until then it was almost impossible to find a comfortable stride and space to run unimpeded.

The support through the race was excellent and I can’t think of anywhere en route that was sparsely cheered.

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My first mile was a little slower than I would have liked, but I didn’t realise it was net uphill. I managed to bring the pace down a bit for mile 2 but it went up again for 3. Strangely however, I crossed the 5k mats in 20.55. This was encouraging for 2 reasons. Firstly, this was the time I ran Yeovilton 5k in a couple of weeks ago – where I died on my arse – and was still feeling pretty comfortable. Secondly, My watch didn’t register that it was 5k yet and was coming up short, which meant my pace was actually OK.

With this in mind, I pushed on for the second half and ran a very creditable second half in about 20.35(ish). With the last 1.2 miles at a decent pace I really didn’t expect to have at all, yet alone in the final stages. This resulted in a tidy negative split too, which I was very pleased about!

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So in spite of my foul mood trying its hardest, I actually came away with a PB. Now don’t get me wrong I still don’t feel in great shape. I still think back when I was in Marathon peak form pre-Manchester I think i could have managed a sub-40. If I hadn’t had such a shocking post-Manchester recovery, and I’d been able to kick on I think I could have managed it too. But c’est la vie. It’s still great for the confidence that it’s somewhere in the right direction, better than Yeovilton last month.

The finishing funnel was excellently managed, people kept getting moved on and the tag was removed on a funky bridge – saving the volunteers backs – which was a great idea.

Then to top this off, the goody bag was absolutely first class. An Adidas “Response” technical tee, cracking medal, loads of food and drink too. Probably the best goody bag I’ve ever had.

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Considering the price of this race was only £28, I felt that this was EXCELLENT value for a city center race with such a good atmosphere and goody bag.

The only down side was the queue for the baggage. By no means as bad as the Manchester Marathon fiasco, but still quite a wait.

After I finished my race I went to find Lauren who was supporting and cheered in Jodie and Imogen at the 150m to go point. They looked really strong, Imogen ran really well and I think she actually enjoyed it too.

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All in all, a fabulous race and we will certainly be back – a highly recommended race.

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Race Report: Glastonbury Road Run (10k)

The Glastonbury Road Run is a series of races from a fun run through 3k, 5k and 10k in the town of Glastonbury, home of the Abbey, the festival and the Tor. The 10k flavour we were running is essentially a large undulating loop around the mystical Glastonbury Tor.

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I wasn’t exactly feeling fresh, the marathon still ringing through my legs but I thought I’d give it a decent crack nonetheless. There was a medal and a tee shirt, so what wasn’t to like!

We arrived in Glastonbury and parked up at Tor Leisure, a local leisure centre where we were recommended to put the car, as it was only a short walk to the HQ. It wasn’t exactly well signposted, and it advised of the road being closed ahead – which strictly speaking, it was… But it added an element of confusion. a “Race Parking” sign might have been useful next to the “Road Closed” sign.

One of the things we noticed headed to the start was all the “Millfield” students in different coloured tee shirts. There were hundreds of them! Millfield is the local private school and it turns out each Millfield boarder MUST take part in one of the races. I guess “house” pride and personal glory is at stake. We witnessed the start of the 3k – testosterone fuelled teenagers sprinting the first 50 yards – no doubt they blew up early on and ended up walking most of the race!

The finish was right outside of the race HQ. The problem was, getting to the HQ meant you had to cross the course, go all the way around the back of the finish funnel in order to get your number. Not ideal. When we eventually made it into the registration area, it was a bit chaotic, with advanced entry packet pickups being separated by Surname – but no signs to indicate who should queue up where. When you did see the signs (They were on the table, which meant you couldn’t see them from the back of the queue) they didn’t necessarily equate to the packets that were there!

Anyway, we eventually sorted all of that out (I had number 111, which looked like a barcode! Which I thought was pretty cool but no-one else agreed…) and headed for the start. According to the race information there was a special starting zone for club runners, right at the front! I was quietly impressed, I’d never been invited to start from the front before! (Yes I know its hardly a GFA or champs start ha ha). Only problem was it didn’t actually exist, so there was no starting areas based upon pace. But not such a big deal really, there were only 600 or so runners.

As we lined up to the start the sun started coming out, which we thought would be a blessing! That lasted about 1 mile before I was moaning about being too hot!

Unfortunately the race was delayed as one of the Millfield buses broke down on the way to the race, and we had to wait for them to arrive. I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand why when there are 600+ people waiting to start, we had to wait for 40 odd people to arrive. it was chip timed after all! But never mind.

Before long we were off. From the start we headed down through the high street through the finish before heading out of town. The support was BRILLIANT! The streets in town were lined 3 deep, cheering people on. It really was a great atmosphere. We then progressed on a large loop around the Tor – Not that I actually saw it!

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The loop took us out into the countryside along some undulating country lanes, and despite it not being a fully closed roads race, I think I only saw two cars. It was pretty undulating though, and had 80m elevation gain, which is quite a lot compared to other 10ks I’ve raced!

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This did mean my pacing was shocking though. I was targetting a sub-42 (rather optimistically), and though I went through halfway just about on target, my marathon fatigued legs soon started falling apart. I had my eye on Simon ahead of me and whilst I was gradually catching him (He was also not having a particularly good race) I had nothing in the tank to catch him. I was overtaken by Chris from the running group and club after about 8k and managed to keep in in sight to the end.

As I got to the 9k mark there was the Glastonbury equivilent of “Heartbreak Hill” and my word it was tough! There was some support here as we were back in town, and someone event shouted “Come on parkrun guy!” but my legs were screaming! I gradually made my way to the top where it levelled off for a bit.

What do you need when you’ve just rinsed your legs at 9.5k? Oh yes, a photo op! But always one for a posing opportunity, did managed to do the “double thumbs” (I need a new pose) and make it look like “It wasn’t that tough!”

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This was followed by a long downhill finish into town and more magnificent support. It was the best finish for a local race I’ve ever seen, rapturous cheering, and a cheeky “After the marathon this should be easy!” from @bentimmo. But believe me, my legs were in bits. If I had anything left the finish would have been fast and enjoyable but instead it was a miserable sufferfest!

0111bbLooking at my splits you can see the gradual decline – although it looks like the downhill helped me a bit!

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Coming through the funnel we earned a medal (Though it was the same as last years apparently, no date embossed anywhere so a bit “generic”) and walked over to get something to drink. I saw Simon, and we both agreed it wasn’t a great deal of fun! Though I think that was largely due to our own lack of conditioning at the moment.

We then headed back along the course to cheer Jodie in. She, despite running London last week and the course being tough, managed to PB – so I was very proud of her!

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Although I didn’t really enjoy the event, I have to say the race was very good. I think with a few small tweaks to make things a bit more streamlined it could be really excellent. More organisation in Registration with a couple of signs, better parking directions, and a better planned finish area to make it easier to get in and out of HQ would be a good start. I’m also not a fan of the medal and prefer something more customized year on year. Pre-registrations also received a free technical tee which was nice, though the colour scheme wasn’t to my taste, training tops are training tops!

The crowd support was amazing though sparse on the back end of the course, and the course was undoubtedly pretty. Its not PB friendly but does have some character. At the moment, I’m not keen on running it again, but they may yet change, as I think I have a score to settle with it!

 

 

 

 

Weston Christmas Cracker 10k 2014

Last year I took part in the Weston Christmas Cracker. It’s a 10k race in Weston-super-Mare, the popular west country seaside resort, home of the grand pier and other such things.I used it as a gauge and my last big race before starting my Marathon training.

I don’t often repeat the same race twice, but given the availability of local 10k races being slim pickings at this time of year, I thought I’d give it a go again.

Organizationally it was a slick affair for a relatively small race. With only 2000 entrants the race sells out very quickly. Numbers (With attached disposable chips) were set out in advance along with an extremely useful guide all about the race, the route, HQ bag drop, the works.

HQ was at Weston College and was spread across 4 floors, but it was very well managed and sign posted. I managed to drop my bag of securely with some great volunteers from Weston AC and headed to the beach toward the start. When I reached the beach I found it was more than a tad blowy!

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I knew this would be a problem. I’d had my heart set on breaking 42 minutes for this race, so I was pretty gutted to have these conditions – but they are what they are and there was nothing I could do about it! Its a shame about the wind too, as despite the temperature only being about 3 degrees, it actually felt quite mild.

After a bit of a warm up I headed toward the start. As this is very much a charity race (With the theme being somewhat obvious…) there was fancy dress everywhere. I was definitely in the minority.WP_20141207_002

As runners assembled I was keen to get a good spot nearish the front. There were no start pens or guide times for runners to stand at based upon estimated finish time, so i just got as close to the front as I could. I saw Kevin who I know from parkrun there and we had a bit of a chat whilst we waited to head off. I knew he’d run a fast time here before a few minutes quicker than the time I had targeted. So I didn’t expect to see him again after the start.

Before long we were off. I settled into my pace nicely, and the wind seemed to be behind, as I couldn’t feel it too much. This was a bad thing. The course was different this year to last year. We started in a different direction and did a mini-lap on the beach that was about 4 k, then a larger 6k lap. This however meant running into the wind for half the race.

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And I suffered with the wind, big time. OK, the wind behind would have helped some, but the swirling nature meant it was more of a cross wind than a tail wind, so it still whipped across.

I knew early on that sub 42 was overly optimistic. But I tried my hardest to get as close as I could. The support was tremendous, the marshals were excellent and the course was very good. No road closures in place but a very safe well organised route.

Running the last 3k back into the wind was utterly demoralising. I was watching the Garmin closely as I’d caught back some time, but I just couldn’t bring it back. Then turning back onto the beach for the last 500 yards the wind was right in your face and it knocked the wind from my sails. I kept my head down, motored on and crossed the line in 42.44 – Still a PB, but 5s per km off my target. It was tough.

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No goody bag from this race but there was a mince pie and possibly the best free technical tee I’ve received. Really top quality.

I stuck around and offered some support, but I cooled quickly and race HQ was 500 yards from the finish, so I made a jog to get my stuff and head home.

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Statistically speaking the Garmin made some balls ups. For some reason it screwed a whole load of elevation up at points during the race, and I’ve got no idea why. Here’s the full activity. My cadence lacked some consistency, but looking at my heartrate I don’t think I could have given it any more than I did.

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I have to say though, looking at the results I finished 71st, 1st in club (Ahead of Kevin, who I mentioned earlier) and 35th in my gender/age category. Out of 1700 finishers I was delighted with that! Its a shame it’s not a UKA race, as I’d like to see how the SSS and vSSS fared to see how I actually performed. But unfortunately I won’t be able to see. Either way, its 10 minutes better than my last years time – and thats a pretty satisfying improvement, year on year.

My final goal of the year is to run a sub 20 5k. I was hoping this would give me some confidence to hit that time in the Street 5k on Wednesday, but I’m not feeling hugely confident. There are 2 parkruns left in the year I can run yet though, so I’ll be giving it all I’ve got until the last moment. McMillan doesn’t think i can do it based upon yesterday’s time – but hopefully the conditions are better and I can prove it wrong.

But until next year, Weston…

WP_20141207_006UPDATE: Here are the suitably horrendous official race photos! Certainly won’t be paying for these!xmascracker4 xmascracker3 xmascracker2

 

Race Report: Battle of Sedgemoor 10k

The Battle of Sedgemoor 10k is run around the somerset lowlands of Langport, Drayton and Muchelney. Organised by Langport Runners, it sported a field of about 300 runners from far and wide as it formed both part of the Somerset Series, and was an ARC Championship race.

It was actually on Sunday 24th August, but I’ve only just had time to write this up!

Access (5/5)

Access was excellent, with the main routes into Langport well accessible. Parking wasn’t advertised, but was plentiful and suited the size of the field.

Race Village (4/5)

Registration was a bit strange. Whilst Simon and myslef had pre-registered, Jodie hadn’t. So we had to go into the Langport Arms for her to register. However, this was about 300 yards away from our race packet pickup which was near the finish line! Bit strange and confusing but we left plenty of time.

There were loads of helpful marshals, and everything was very well signposted. There was water available before the race. Unfortunately no bag storage, but we left ours in quite a public place near the finish funnel and there were no issues.

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The Start (3/5)

Before the race there was a well attended race briefing, though unfortunately the Race Director had lost the crowd halfway through as the dull noise of people talking grew louder and louder. He was excellent at explaining the start arrangements though – we couldn’t line up until immediately before the race as the roads were no closed. So ahead of the start, everyone lined the pavements until we had the all clear.

No start pens or zones, which was fine for the size of the field, and we were away very promptly. Despite there being no start pens, the footfall filtered down quickly and allowed everyone to run their own paces quickly.

The Route (4/5)

Despite it being in the Somerset Levels, there was quite the incline as indicated by the elevation chart below! (It’s not actually that much of a spike considering the scale – its no mountain!) It was all on open public roads which is why it loses a mark, as well as it not being the most inspiring course. it is however, fast and once you get over the initial climb its a net downhill all the way home, including the last Kilometer, which made for a great finish.

boselevationCrowd support was sparse out in the villages, but back in the town center and importantly for the finish, the support was magnificent, and they cheered everyone all the way to the line.

The route was truly excellently marshalled, with great encouragement from all of them, 2 aid stations (Though I still haven’t mastered the art of grabbing and drinking from plastic cups at race pace…) and brilliantly signed – you couldn’t have gone wrong if you tried. KM markers were spot on (As in a few meters from my KM autolap on my Garmin…).

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Swag (4/5)

It was a small event at a low price so this is a relative score. No goody bag or tee shirt were advertised but nor was the medal – which was excellent! One of my favourites! So the score is for the medal, relative to the cost and expectations from the race. There was water available afterwards, but something like a banana may have been nice.

Results (3/5)

Results powered by Full On Sport which is a pretty decent results system. My only niggles are that firstly, it was Gun to Chip timed – might have taken another 4 seconds of that PB! Secondly, that the results kept moving for the following hour or so afterwards. Now this isn’t really a problem, but when comparing it with the excellent services from DBMax for Frome, its not fair to not knock a mark off for this. But again, its good value.

My Race

I came into this race off the back of some strong training for the upcoming Bristol Half Marathon. Frome was a few weeks ago on a tough course and I was confident I could finally break down the sub 45 barrier which had seemingly stood in my way forever (Although in reality, it was more like 4 months…). I set my Garmin to keep me above the required 4:30min/km pace to hit that target. I was aware there was a climb a the start, and I knew the last KM was downhill. My strategy was to stay on pace for the climb, hang on for the middle portion (Which was still a net downhill) and then push on the last KM with the hill advantage.

Gathering on the start line, I knew it was Gun to Chip, and started as close to the front as I felt comfortable. I was there with Simon and Jodie, though I knew Simon was going to be faster than me and Jodie slower, so after the first 100 yards it would be a solo effort. The gun went and away we went. Somehow I immediately found a golden cadence of 180+ and felt comfortable. Going up the climb was definitely a struggle, but I kept slowly gaining on people and overtaking people one at a time. I kept Simon in sight for the first 6km, he was always about 200 yards ahead of me. As tempting as it was to try and catch him, I had a target and a plan, and wanted to stick to the strategy. The last thing I wanted was to miss my target by going too fast and blowing up.

After the first couple of kilometers and after the climb I found a good rhythm and a solid pace which I kept to. I found myself overtaking more than getting overtaken. Towards 7/8k it became more of a struggle to maintain pace, and KM8 was a wake up call. The watch flashed that Iw as off target for that KM so I knew I needed to pick it up.

Coming back into Langport there were more people which spurred me on and it came to the downhill section I was looking forward to. Looking at my watch I was on for a sub 44! Dreamland! I pushed on and came around the last corner hearing everyones favourite local marshal Nikkii Small should friendly abuse at me to try and speed me up! And it worked, rounding the bend I could see the finish line and see the clock. A bit of extra efort in and I crossed the line in a new PB of 43:36!

Simon had finished a bit ahead and saw me cross the line. he smashed a massive PB too. I grabbed some water and chatted with Simon and a few other runners after the finish before turning my attentions to Jodie.

I’d been trying to convince her that she’d be able to go around in under an hour. She wasn’t convinced but I’d given her the pace to target on her watch. As the race clocked ticked to 56 or 57 I started walking back on the course to try and catch her. I spotted her walking a bit so shouted to cheer her on. She started running again. I ran to meet her and ran along with her. Usually she’d shout abuse at me but not this time which was pleasing! I had no idea what time she had on her watch or if she was on or off target, so i just kept on encouraging. I ran with her around the last bend and saw the finish funnel. All I could see on the race clock was the second hand ticking up.

56, 57, 58, 59, 00. She’d miss her target by a few seconds, but still a magnificent run. I kept on running with her and cheered her through until more of the clock was revealed… It had only just ticked over the 59 minute mark! She made her goal!

Once Jodie had recovered and we’d all had some water, we went to the bar with some friends and had a well earned pint. Along with Steve our Langport Runner comrade, we’d all PBed.

A brilliant race, one I thoroughly enjoyed and will most certainly return to next year.

Garmin Activity

Race Report: Frome 10k

Sunday the 20th July 2014 saw the third annual running of the Frome Half Marathon. As part of the event they also have a 10k (which I took part in) and a 5k. It is all chip timed with road closures in place.

The weather was dry and humid, and the sun came out towards the end of the 10k – I wouldn’t have fancied being out on the course for the whole half in that heat!

Access (5/5)

We accessed Frome by car, and due to the road closures being in place the organisers had great signage on the main routes in guiding you directly to the car park. From there the event village was well signposted.

Race Village (3/5)

The race village was inside Frome FC’s football ground. Being a football ground it meant you had to follow the sometimes quite narrow walkways between the pitch and stands. There was just about enough room but wouldn’t have taken any more people.

We had to pick up our packets from Race HQ, and they had big signs for people to pick up their packets based upon surname. For some reason, the A-C pick up was RAMMED. Not sure why? Either the runners were not aware that there were other queues for different surnames or there were an awful lot of A-C’s! I picked up from ‘W’ in a matter of seconds but my friend Simon had to queue for 5 minutes. And it was hot in there!

They advised us to fill in emergency details on the back of the number but there was no ‘form’ and you just had to fill it in as best you could.

Loads of safety pins and pens, as well as plentiful toilets.

We got a snap to show what we looked like before the race!

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The Start (1/5)

We were really confused at the start. We didn’t know if every race started together or not, and could find no signs or marshals to tell us!

Furthermore, there were no guide times of where to stand based upon perceived pace. As such I spent the first kilometre weaving and overtaking.

There was somebody saying something on a microphone, but the speakers and amplification was quite poor and if you were any more than 10 meters away you couldn’t hear it!

We DID hear the hooter though and off we went! Jodie managed to get a great photo of us.

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Route (3/5)

The route was undulating to say the least! The first 7km were through mainly residential areas with some industrial parks thrown in for good measure. Aid stations were plentiful with water stations very frequent – in bottles too! There were also sponge stations, but I have a feeling my sponge had previously been used to wash a car, as it left a chemically cleaning taste in my mouth!

It was not a PB course but was challenging. With the hill shown on the course profile below you can see the incline which just seemed relentless!

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The crowd support though was absolutely first rate! With people dotted all around offering support, residents hosing runners down and kids cycling with us in support it really was a great place to run.

The route marshals were very efficient and supportive. The split point, where people running the half/10k had to go in different directions was well controlled – with a megaphone advising us in advance, plentiful signage and marshals guiding us, it really was a breeze.

Speaking of signage this was great too. The KM markers were in line with my Garmin (not that they should be trusted) for all except the 9km marker. This seemed to be 250 meters late. Like I said, I wouldn’t usually trust my watch, but when you consider the overall length I recorded was nearly perfect (10.02km) and I did a manual lap press at the marker, you can see in the splits below that things just didn’t add up. But it was no big deal.

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Swag (2/5)

The goody bag was a bit average, and the medal was poor.

Goody bag had a couple of pieces of cheese, a banana, some food supplement tabs and then just leaflets.

The medal, is small and a bit tinny. But still ok for a small good value race.

Results (5/5)

Wow, I’ve not run a race that used DB Max chip timing before, but it’s comprehensive!

PDF certificate, easy ‘share’ links, 5k split time, the ability to see how many people you’d overtaken and even a YouTube clip of your finish! Very good indeed.

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My Race

Due to the issues at the start as mentioned above, the first kilometer was quite congested, and you can see from the split times that it cost about 20 seconds – Which it transpires would have given me a PB!

The next 3 k I managed to keep very consistent thanks to my trusty Garmin. With no tall buildings around and no trees it was able to have a good signal all the way around. The KM markers fell in line with my Garmin which was encouraging as I didn’t have any maths to worry about to see if I was on pace!

Then came the hill. I tried to attack it and maintain my pace. My pace slowed, and slowed, and slowed and before I reached the top of the first part I was forced to walk for a good 30 seconds. Man it was tough. Getting started again was difficult, my legs felt like jelly but I managed to refind my pace only for another climb, which I ran all the way up.

For the whole middle section of the race, I was paranoid about missing the turnoff for the 10k, but I needn’t have been – The marshals did really well making sure we went in the right direction. As I turned the inclines started becoming declines and it allowed my legs to recover a bit. At one point I heard a kid say “48” and I didn’t know what he meant. I assumed he said something like “Come on 848” which was my race number but it transpired I was in 48th place!

Coming down through Frome Town Centre I was able to pick up more pace only for another hill to hit. I had to walk near the top again unfortunately. Simon said he had me in his sights at that point, not that I had any idea, but I just couldn’t put in any more effort.

Then I panicked as I passed the 9km marker when my watch said 9.25! I thought I still had another Km to go. But I kicked on, up to the well supported football ground and came around the back.

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I heaved 4 times in the last 200 meters, but managed to cross the line in a watch time of 46.28. Officially that time was reduced to 46.26.

Given the profile, the heat, and the start arrangements I was very pleased with the result.

Overall (19/30)

A good race, decently organised but could be better – particularly with arrangements at the start. But all in all quite pleased and was a good mornings running.