I stepped out of bed the morning after a (largely) off-road half marathon with a small sense of relief in that my legs were feeling pretty reasonable, if still a little stiff. I’d struggled through yesterday’s race, seemingly unable to find a nice running rhythm, and was hoping that today would be a little easier in that respect.
I walked to meet my colleagues (Gareth and Andy); on yet another pleasant morning (already quite warm, two hours before the ‘off’) this was a nice way to work the stiffness out of the legs. As is the apparent norm for us when we get together, the conversation was at playground-banter level, much of which was aimed at Andy, who was recovering from a stag do the day previously.
That level was reinforced when, during the ten-minute walk from the car park at Fairford FC to Race HQ, a photo was taken of Andy’s running shirt and edited to revise the ‘Hi’ from his ‘Hi Dommy’ lettering into a slightly rude word. Having that picture then shared amongst a small group of running work colleagues probably reinforces the argument I’ve heard that women tend to have a higher level of maturity than men.
Having collected our race numbers we chatted to Graham (race adjudicator for the day) and Norm (who had turned up to support). Norm was due to take part in a 50-odd-mile race from Stroud to Broadway the following weekend. With several Almosts taking on the Dartmoor Discovery ultra this weekend, and Mark & Anne-Marie in Durban to run the Comrades marathon, our 10k felt a little paltry.
I’d been advised that the first half of this run was a little undulating, with a longish incline between 5 and 6k. I was mindful of this as we gathered at the start, opting to go easy early on. With a 300-plus field, there was little progress to be made immediately, as we started and made our way out of the village.
We passed 2k and the field began to string out. I managed to find a comfortable pace and managed the first part of the route, with a couple of minor undulations, without trouble. The water station was placed just after the 4k mark, allowing runners to take a bit of refreshment on board before we’d tackle the main incline.
We dropped down and took a couple of turns before we tackled the climb. It’s not steep but it is long! Having prepared myself for this (in a fashion) I dug in and found myself passing quite a few people as we approached the top, and the 6k mark. We took a right turn and began the trek back towards Fairford, most of which would be slightly downhill, so should be relatively easy.
I’m not sure that my legs, having been put through a difficult race yesterday, were too thrilled at the effort I’d put in on the incline and I found myself having to work relatively hard to maintain a decent pace – and position relative to others – as we went through the 7 and 8k markers. We were coming back into the village and I was trying to make up my mind when to push for the final portion.
In doing so I must have somehow missed the 9k sign and found myself on a road that looked familiar. This must be near the finish – I upped my effort and put those who I’d been running alongside behind me. We turned one corner, then another… still no sign of the finish! Had I gone too soon?
I could hear a crowd cheering, so it could not be too far off. I kept up the effort and, as we turned the next corner, the finish was in sight – about 200 metres away. I was unable to muster up a sprint though and those I thought I’d left behind in the last few minutes promptly came whizzing by me.
I managed a greeting to Graham as I approached the line and was welcomed by Norm beyond it – he had agreed to help out on water duties (I learned afterwards that this had been negotiated with the promise of a bacon sandwich).
My time was fairly modest, but inside 50 minutes; reasonably pleasing to me, after a race the day before. Andy and Gareth both finished in under an hour (Matt Polson completed it in 40 minutes, which may explain why we did not see him there! – very impressive), no mean feat for Andy, who had been forced to briefly stop between 2 and 3k to, let’s say, engage in an Irish version of sport that combines baseball, hockey and lacrosse.
We were invited to put our race numbers into a box which would serve as a raffle draw. We were also given a goody bag which, as well as water, banana and Haribos, contained both a race medal and a snood. I collected my bag from the baggage area, pointing it out by way of recognition – my race number had been tagged to it but I’d just handed that in for the raffle!
We enjoyed a post-race drink courtesy of a bar set up in the race HQ marquee (with quite a nice selection of ales), plus a cake from the nearby hut. We had originally planned a ‘burger challenge’ but the barbeque we had anticipated was not going! Still – we were not exactly short on choice: as well as the cake stall there was a hot-dog / snack van and ice-cream van in operation.
This may not be the flattest 10k you come across but it is certainly a good one. There’s a real local village feel to it, well supported by the locals. Chip timing is courtesy of DB max so you can get your race result pretty much immediately. It’s well organised (thanks to Running Somewhere Else) and one that I would recommend.