3rd July 2017
Enter early or you will miss out (or, more accurately, find yourself in an increasingly long waiting list, hoping that there will be some withdrawals from which you may pick up a transfer). This is a measure of the popularity of the fast and scenic Frampton 10k, hosted by Stroud AC. Whilst it is not on the Almost’s road race series, it is still well subscribed by the purple army. The promise of a post-race cider may have a little influence, I’d guess.
Sure enough, a sizeable portion of us were present on the village green, collecting race numbers and struggling to apply the race chips to our shoes. OK, I was struggling – I seemed to have trouble figuring how to put the plastic ties through the slots in the chip and through my laces in a logical fashion. I eventually succeeded, but managed to compromise my shoe in term of how tightly I could lace it.
Having had a full week off running following a rather busy race period I was unsure as to whether I would do well on fresh legs or do poorly on the back of a week of no exercise. I decided on anywhere in between, opting to choose a race time range of 47 to 50 minutes. Not that it should influence me: I have very little idea of pacing and do not like to check my watch. Just turn up, run, hope it goes OK.
We made our way to the start and I found myself alongside marathon man Allan Green. Just for the sake of it I decided to pursue him from the gun, which was at a higher pace than I am typically used to setting off at (by which I mean harder than normal, bearing in mind my previous comment on pacing!). My race plan was duly set: go off hard and try to hang on.
Even before 2k was reached I was aware that this was not the best of plans. I was already starting to suffer for it and could do little about the ever increasing gap that was developing between Allan and myself. My best bet would be to find somebody running at a more-or-less matching pace to me and latch on.
The revised plan took me past the church at Fretherne and on to Overton lane, where we would loop around Framilode, with the Severn visible on our left. However, there was the small matter of an incline to negotiate before we’d see the river. On a good day I’d be using this to pass people. On this specific evening I was happy just to cling onto the coat tails of the runners immediately around me.
We levelled off before a rather gentle descent towards the 5k mark. Just the same distance to do again. I had resigned myself to taking it a little easier for the next couple of kilometres, on the basis that I may simply blow up otherwise. A bit of a shame, as this stretch of road that completes the loop back to Fretherne is the sort that, in my view, is good for stepping up the pace (next time, I reminded myself, start a little more conservatively please).
We rejoined the road that would take us back to Frampton, and passed the 8k marker. At this point the field was well strung out. Some way ahead of me a runner was staring to drop off a small group so I focused on him and started to push myself again. I slowly but steadily closed the gap between us and passed him with just over 1k to go. Next up, the group itself.
We approached the bridge that would signal the entry to Frampton village and I made use of the short incline there to put myself onto the back of said group. With less than half a mile to go people started to pick up the pace. The effort I’d put in over that bridge had all but finished me but I managed to stay with the group and follow the runners to the green and the finish.
A short sprint (broadly speaking: one needs to stretch the imagination a little to use the word ‘sprint’ for my effort) across the grass, to ensure that I wouldn’t be passed in the closing metres, brought me to the finish. I had to briefly stop, to have my chip removed (quick work with a pair of snips, vastly more rapid than my efforts to put it on earlier!), before I could claim what I would term a well-earned cider.
My watch was stopped at 47½ minutes, towards the better end of my expectations (I later learned that my chip time was 47 minutes exactly). Despite a lull between 6 and 8k, I’d kept up a reasonable pace from what I call going off hard. Not a bad evening’s work but I felt that a could-do-better proviso should be included.
This is a PB-potential course, as demonstrated with a couple of bests for Almost that evening. Coupled with the scenery and cider (plus a burger I had to accompany the cider!), it’s well worth taking the trouble to get an early entry in.