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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
UPDATE: Here are the suitably horrendous official race photos! Certainly won’t be paying for these!