Race Report – Summer Solstice 10K, Long Bennington, Friday 23rd June 2017

The old adage that tends to run fairly true is that it takes a mile per day to fully recover from a running race. Given that I’d just a week from the Notts 10 Mile Race to the Summer Solstice 10K, the odds were always going to be against me. It could be said I didn’t help matters by running an 18 flat parkrun the following morning after the Holme Pierrepont race, followed by a 38 mile tempo bike ride in the heat of a very warm afternoon, a 64 mile bike ride the next day, spinning, elliptical trainer and running two and from the gym on a Monday, a 10 mile TT on the Tuesday (a course PB) and a 14 1/2 mile run on the Wednesday.

I was planning to rest up on the Thursday, especially with work, but I unexpectedly finished early and so had the opportunity to take part in a Witham Wheelers Chaingang ride. Having perhaps misinterpreted a recent article written by Lisa Dobriskey I decided to live for the moment. Chances to ride the chaingang are few and far between – I do enjoy them. Plus the weather for Friday was hardly looking conducive to racing – a strong wind looked set to destroy chances of a quick time.

That wind was very much present on the ride. I’d planned to spend much of the ride somewhere near the back conserving energy, getting a free ride wherever possible. But within minutes I found myself taking turns at the front, pulling 400+ watts, straining every sinew in my body to keep going. It was fun, exhilarating, somewhat exhausting, I sat up as the group exploded on the main climb of the ride, convincing myself that riding at a mere 4 watts per kg for the remainder of the ride was resting.

Thankfully when I awoke on race day morning the legs didn’t feel too bad – that’s the great thing about cycling, you can push quite hard and the legs generally feel not too bad the next day – certainly better than if you have run. As is typical for me on Solstice day, it would be spent working on a Grand Prix – this time the Azerbaijan GP, and it would be touch and go if I would make it to the start in time. In 2016 I made it with 10 minutes to spare and paid the penalty with stitch at 5k. Luckily this year I was more or less done and dusted by 6:30 pm, and with it being just a 20 minute drive from Grantham to Long Bennington, I had a, comparatively speaking, luxurious 40 minutes to prepare for the race.

I parked up around 1/2 mile from the race village, the warm up would be jogging to collect my race number and chip, returning to the car to dispose take on a final race drink, then jog back to the village to have a final toilet break. On arriving at the village I was greeted by old Kenilworth Runners friends and legends of the sport Pauline and Tom Dable, who are approaching 70 years young and had were taking part in their ninth race in twelve days! I had the time to have a quick chat before I had to make my apologies and prepare for the race. There was a little drama when I lost one of my safety pins for the race number and struggled to source another, but generally I was relatively happy with my preparation. I opted again to go with the Hoka Clifton 2s rather than the Nike Frees with the Achilles feeling a touch sore and with the calf issue at Lincoln still in my mind.

I didn’t have time to enjoy the warm up routine given by none other than my spinning instructor, but there appeared to be plenty doing so. With my chairman of Grantham Running Club hat on, I had reason to be very proud of the efforts made by those in our club to make this a pretty outstanding club run race.

Rebecca Smith hosts the pre-race warm up at the 2017 Long Bennington Summer Solstice. Picture c/o Jamie Garcia

I headed to the start line and made my way towards the front. I had a quick scan for familiar faces – I’d already seen Ben Livesey warming up so I knew the unlikely prospect of victory was out of the question. He though faced stiff competition from another previous winner Shane Robinson, who would indeed go on to win in a swift 31:47. The other familiar face was Greg Southern, a Sleaford based runner who I’ve had the pleasure of being beaten by at pretty much every parkrun I’ve taken part in at Belton House this past year or so.

The field lines up a the start of the the 2017 Long Bennington Summer Solstice. Picture c/o Gordon Geach

Staring out at the gentle rise on the bridge that takes us over the A1 and on the road out of Long Bennington, the unmistakable breeze on my face confirmed that the wind direction was the same as the night before. This meant it would be a head / cross wind for the first 6 km of the race before becoming a favourable tail wind, especially for the final mile and half. At dead on 7:30 pm the starting horn was blasted by club mate Mark and we were off!

Ben Livesey (#1429) leads at the start of the the 2017 Long Bennington Summer Solstice. I’m tucked in just behind race winner Shane Robinson. Picture C/O Gordon Geach

As I’ve tended to more than other races, perhaps because it is my local race, I went out hard, quickly finding myself a spot in the top ten. A look at the Garmin 30 or so seconds in and the shock discovery that I was knocking out sub 5 minute mile pace, made me try and ease off a touch but I found myself in a small group and I was keen to try and stay on the back of it – particularly as we were running in to the wind and I didn’t want to be exposed to it. The legs felt a touch heavy after the cycling the night before but, not too bad. At least I didn’t have the hamstring issues that plagued me in the previous two Solstices. Apart from the grumbling right Achilles, I was feeling in fine fettle – the calf issues of a few weeks ago seemingly fixed.

I went through the first mile in 5:28. This was seven seconds slower than in 2016, but the wind was not a factor then. It was at around a mile that Greg Southern pulled out of my slipstream, moved to the front of a now just three strong group, and pushed on the pace. My experience of Greg at Belton House parkrun is that he is a master pacer and follows a strategy I like to employ, start of relatively steady, then gradually build up the pace with the aim of finishing faster than you started. Reckoning that he was on a similar campaign in this race, I made a concerted effort to go with his acceleration. Over the next mile or so he would put in a number of these small accelerations and each time I stuck with him. The second mile was a 5:34, again slower in 2016, but the wind was a real factor as we turned left at the end of the road and headed towards Staunton, facing a full head wind.

Marshal support at the 2017 Long Bennington Summer Solstice. Picture c/o SJ Willis.

Perhaps inspired by the vociferous local support in the form of two marshals with their handmade placards, (I misread SJ’s #DBS (Don’t Be S**t! for #DRS – which I took to be a Formula One inspired encouragement to overtake on the straight that followed) , I stuck as best I could onto the coattails of Martin Troop, who had passed Greg, who by now was struggling and quite quickly dropped back by around 10-15 seconds. It transpired that Greg had actually gone for a high risk go out hard and hang on strategy which was now beginning to see him unravel.

I went through the third mile in 5:36 and the official 5K marker in just outside 17 minutes. This was slower than I went though in 2015 and 2016, but this felt by far the hardest effort of the three. I did though breath a sigh of relief as I passed the sport where I abruptly stopped with stitch in 2016, pressing on as best I could as I slowly lost the slipstream of Martin.

The end of the headwind would normally be celebrated, but at this race it means the only real climb of the race at Staunton has to be made. I got up it as best I could, taking a gulp of water on the summit, appreciating the warm smattering of applause from those enjoying a pint at the pub on the top of the hill, wishing I could be there rather than racing at that very moment in time!  The fourth mile was a relatively pedestrian 5:46. I was really struggling now, the legs felt heavy, breathing laboured (Not helped by a bit of hay fever) the will to keep going severely tested. Only Greg evidently slowly closing back on me gave me the inspiration to keep going, the prospect of a rare victory over him spurring something inside me.

The fifth mile was horrible – 5:49, admitted slightly uphill, but with a tail wind supporting us (albeit tempered by tree cover) it really should have been much quicker. The final full mile of the race, taking us back into Long Bennington was just a case of gritting teeth and running as hard as possible. It wasn’t pretty, Greg kept closing, I kept wanting to ease up, but didn’t. The sixth mile split popped up just as we took the final turn onto the finishing straight, I’d rallied to some extent with a 5:31 – helped greatly this time by the full force of the tail wind.

Coming into tihe finish, totally shattered! Picture c/o Graeme Reynolds.

The sprint to the finish was a tortuous affair, wheezing away and legs not wanting to know. I began to feel quite dizzy as I approached the line, crossing it in exactly 35 minutes. I had though managed to stay five seconds clear of Greg, earning myself seventh overall. It took a little longer than usual to recover from my efforts, but a minute or two later I was cheering home the first of my club mates, all of whom had run far better, relatively speaking, than I had.

After a few minutes behind the finish line I went to collect my post race commemorative cider and glass, and went to watch some more runners finish before receiving some post race massage on my Achilles from my man David McKee, catching up again with Pauline and Tom, and taking home a decidedly cold, dejected, pained, Chris Limmer, who had spent far longer on his feet than he should have following surgery.

I came away from the race pretty dissatisfied with my efforts. I felt I’d paced the race badly, going out a bit too hard and paying the consequences in the second half of the race. It’s not the way I like to race. It was also pretty obvious that the chaingang ride of the night before probably wasn’t the best preparation ever. Within minutes of finishing I’d already decided of activating the back up plan of targeting the Holme Pierrepont 10K in six days time, where I would race the way I like to – attack from the back!

Race Report – Summer Solstice 10k – Friday 17th June 2016

This was definitely one of the stranger races I have completed. One for many reasons best forgotten, which is one reason why it has taken over a month to commit my report into words.

Long Bennington’s Summer Solstice 10k has been a bittersweet race for me over the years. It is Grantham Running Club’s flagship race so is a prominent fixture in my calendar. The first year I ran it, two years ago, I probably shouldn’t have and for a while after questioned the whole wisdom of racing. I returned last year, mind refreshed, the body recovering from two serious injuries but in good shape. I finished third with a 10k PB. I was delighted but tempered with frustration that were it not for a niggle in my left glute, I would have almost certainly broken 34 minutes.

The 2016 edition was looking promising off the back of a strong showing at the Duathlon World Championships a couple of weeks earlier. I had the complication that I was working that day and couldn’t guarantee my participation, but in the end I was just about able to make it to the race on time. What wasn’t accounted for was waking on the Thursday morning with severe tightness in my right hamstring. It may have been a delayed reaction from the 25 mile bike Time Trial I’d ridden on Tuesday evening. It may just have easily been a case of sleeping in an odd position Wednesday night and tweaking the back (I think, in hindsight, it was another, short-lived, bout of sciatica). Whatever it was running was out of the question on Thursday and up to Friday afternoon things weren’t looking promising.

At 6:37pm I ran, close to my house, just over a mile warm up as a fitness test. The right hamstring hurt a lot, but my pace didn’t seemed diminished and the pain wasn’t getting any worse. I decided to drive to the race and see what happened. I arrived at 7:10pm, too late to get to the official car park, so dumped the car on the main road and jogged half a mile to the start, when the heavens opened and scattered runners and spectators to try and find cover.

I arrived at race HQ and spotted my massage guru David McKee, With ten minutes to the start, he performed some very quick and pretty painful massage on the upper right hamstring, before sending me on my way to the start line. I got to the start line a couple of minutes before the go, I ran one set of strides to test the leg – no miracle cure, but it was bearable to run on. The rain couldn’t decided whether it was going to persist, the conundrum of whether to go with wearing the sunglasses distracted my attention from the matter of racing.

The race began at 7:30pm prompt. I’d spied Aaron Scott and a few of his ‘mates’ (i.e. quick runners) on the start line, so knew there was no hope of a podium finish, I quickly found myself sixth, leading the second pack, trying to ignore the hamstring tightness that would come and go in waves.

The start of the race - Sunglasses On - For Now. Picture c.o. Paul Rushworth.
The start of the race – Sunglasses On – For Now. Picture c.o. Paul Rushworth.

Despite the discomfort, the poor preparation and rushed warm up, the first mile was quick – 5:21, comfortably ahead of PB pace. Aerobically I was feeling unchallenged so I continued to push on as hard as I could, the discomfort in the right hamstring the limiting factor.

The group soon disintegrated so I was just running with one other runner who I shared the pace with through to 5k. Mile 2 slowed a touch to 5:29, mile 3 was 5:28 and I passed 5k in 16:53, which was essentially the same halfway split I ran in 2015. It was at near bang on 5k I began to get severe discomfort in my stomach, on the right hand side. It had all the hallmarks of stitch. I tried altering my breathing and did a bit of prodding to make the pain go but it rapidly got worse to the point where I found myself slowing uncontrollably and before I knew it grinding to a halt and walking!

Grinding to a halt! Photographer unknown.
Grinding to a halt! Photographer unknown.

I very rarely get stitch and for a while doubted whether it was that or if it was something like a Psoas muscle locking and going into spasm as a result of the hamstring tightness causing issues with the lower back. I had stopped just before the left turn at Staunton-in-the-Vale, a spot where the sparsely spectated race tends to get a few onlookers. I had sympathetic applause from a few, the offer of a lift back to the start from a couple of others. Not quite sure what to do, I politely declined and grabbed a cup of water at the fortuitously placed drinks station.

I spotted club mate Chris Limmer close and past me, along with around ten other runners who had managed to keep going and overtake me. The discomfort began to ease in the stomach and, not fancying hanging around for the broom wagon, I resumed running – a jog at first then quite quickly into something resembling full pace. The stitch had all but gone, the hamstring pain still there but no better nor worse. Sportstracks reliably informs me that the stitch incident saw me walking for 77 seconds, and jogging for 40 seconds more. The four mile split was 6:52, which, in hindsight, is not too bad considering the amount of time not actually running.

With thoughts of a good time and maybe even a PB out of the window, I relaxed and focused on getting to the finish. I also pinpointed club mate Chris who was around 10-20 seconds up the road. In the fifth mile I began to reel him in, I passed him at almost exactly 5 miles (a 5:36 effort). I considered briefly running alongside him or pacing him, as I knew he was close to running a PB, but I felt the best course of action was to push on as hard as possible myself and try and act as a rabbit for him to chase. The sixth and final mile was a 5:27 as I came onto the final straight which, this year, was much improved with the finish line on the main road rather than in a gravel pit just off it.

Not wanting to risk the hamstring I didn’t put in a sprint finish, crossing the line a fairly fresh fourteenth in 35:25. I grabbed a water and walked to some friends who were at the finish. Chris soon came past me, delighted that he had indeed broken his 10k PB. I hung around a few minutes to cheer (Shout) home another club mate Scott, who I was delighted to see break 40 minutes for the first time.

Grabbing the water at the finish. Picture c.o. Paul Rushworth.
Grabbing the water at the finish as Chris finishes. Picture c.o. Paul Rushworth.
Lamenting on what may have been as Chris finishes. Picture c.o. Jaime Garcia.
The exact same moment as above, but from another angle! Picture c.o. Jaime Garcia.

I collected my beer (still not drunk), my half pint glass, printed off my results, lamented with a few runners then limped back to the car, the hamstring feeling very sorry for itself as I nodded to race winner Aaron Scott as he put in a post race warm down. Before I knew it I was home and back to work, finally leaving my desk at 11pm.

Over a month on I still don’t know quite how to judge this race. On one side I was really disappointed that I was clearly in the shape, had I not had the hamstring issue and the mid-race stitch, to break 34 minutes. On the other hand I should be pretty pleased that I walked for over a minute, but still ran sub 36 minutes and thankfully suffered no ill effects from the risky run on the hamstring. I just hope that I have another opportunity to be in similar shape to attack a 10k at similar pace again. For now I lament on what might have been.


Race Report – 2015 Long Bennington Summer Solstice 10k

Fresh from the Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon I was certainly not in the days following my first ever triathlon. Monday saw a session at the gym on the stepper and the elliptical trainer with an easy paced recovery run in the evening which felt not too bad. Tuesday however saw me by mid-afternoon in a state of near exhaustion (Perhaps slight exaggeration – very tired is closer). I was contemplating doing nothing at all, but with sunny warm conditions and – for the first Tuesday since 2015 time trials began at Witham Wheelers, – there was barely a breath of wind.

Sensing opportunities to ride windless time trials are going to be at a premium I had a strong coffee and lackadaisically headed to first the cricket club to sign on and then onto the TT start. The lure of a PB appeared to do the trick, for although I rode mediocre at best, I came home in 25:41 – a new PB and first sub 26 clocking. Wednesday saw me feel a touch fresher, but still tired on a gentle, mostly off road 11 mile run around the very pleasant Belton House Estate. Thursday was a day off, which would hopefully see me revitalised for the Friday evening race.

Evening races when there is an F1 race on is always a touch of a risk in terms of being able to participate; thankfully Friday was a quiet day in Spielberg which enabled me to arrive in Long Bennington just shy of an hour before the start of the race. Being a member of Grantham Running Club, the hosts of the race, there was no shortage of familiar faces at the race HQ, all doing a fantastic effort to make this one of the slickest and well catered for evening races I’ve ever attended.

Gravity FM were putting on an outdoor disco and warm up show which, I must admit, didn’t think would work, but actually was really uplifting. I left it though to perform my usual warm up – a 1.5 mile out and back affair, with the return being a series of race pace strides. Everything felt good – aside from a touch of hay fever making breathing a little wheezy, and I went about final preparations.

Helping Scott set up his camera.

Jogging to the start line I felt a twinge in my left glute. I tried to ignore it but was a bit concerned – random aches like this have led to sacrum stress fractures in the recent past. I ran a couple of practice starts and the ache appeared to disappear. After helping Scott on the start line with his camera settings I lined up at the front of the race. This time last year I was at the same start line barely caring less how the race panned out – today I had my race face on and I was keen to do well.

Lining up at the start of the race.

The race gun fired at dead on 7:30 and for a few glorious seconds I actually led the race! For a brief moment thoughts of actually winning the event flooded through my brain. Then Shane Robinson of Lincoln Wellington remembered he is a 31:34 10k runner and swiftly disappeared into the distance, setting a new PB and course record of 31:30 in the process.


The start of the race. Image © Graeme Reynolds
The start of the race. Image © Graeme Reynolds

After the initial frantic dash ‘downhill’ where Garmin was throwing up sub 4:40 pace alerts, we collectively settled down into something more realistic. I found myself third, the orange shirted Daniel Page of Clowne Road Runners ten meters or so up the road and Grantham AC’s Adam Madge sitting on my shoulder in fourth, with a gap growing to the fifth placed runner. On the long flat run on Valley Lane out to Grange Lane there was a slight, but definite, headwind, and I didn’t fancy being a wind break for Adam. I did a deliberate pull out and tuck in behind Adam. I stayed in his slipstream for around 30 seconds but twice I clipped his heels, forcing me to apologise profusely and pull out to retake third place.

At this moment second placed Daniel thought he should play the tactical game and eased up to allow us to catch him and sit behind me and Adam. I was now second, and with the first mile covered in a potentially PB shattering 5:18 I decided to scrap the tactics and just run as hard and fast as I could. The second mile was a fair bit slower in 5:34 but it was then as we turned left and towards Staunton I pushed on again in a bid to try and drop Daniel (Adam by now had dropped off our little group and was fading fast). With the wind now more behind us Daniel took the odd turn to take the lead but I repassed him on several occasions. This battle meant we sped up in the third mile (5:24) and as we passed the official 5k marker I glanced at my Garmin, which read 16:47 – inside my 5k PB!

At this point I was still feeling comfortable and felt I had every chance of finishing second with a sub 34 clocking a real possibility. Then the little ache I’d felt minutes before the start in the left glute reappeared and quite quickly became quite a severe ache. It didn’t really slow me but it was disconcerting and, frankly, a little worrying. The discomfort reached it’s peak as we hit Staunton and turned left again to head back towards Long Bennington. The race’s main drag uphill began and it was there that Daniel was able to eke out a small gap on me. I wanted to push on and go with him but the ache in the glute was just too much to do so.

In third place chasing Daniel Page.

What was reassuring was that once it reached quite painful the level of discomfort stabilised and I was able to run at a fairly decent pace. The fourth mile was 5:31, and the fifth, where I had mentally settled for third place and was thinking more about fending off the rapidly approaching fourth placed runner, was the slowest of the race (5:41). As we began the final mile I could see Daniel ahead making more and more turns of the head, an indicator in most races that he was tiring. I picked up the pace, not only to try and catch him, but because there was the small matter of a PB that was still within my grasp.

We came back into Long Bennington (5:28) and as we hit the finish straight I put on as good a sprint I could with the left glute tightening rapidly. Unfortunately for myself Daniel was wise to my efforts and sprinted at least as effectively as myself (probably more) With a final spurt I crossed the line third.

Sprint to the finish – Third and new PB Image © Graeme Reynolds

The official time would take some time to materialise, but eventually it was given as 34:10 – a new 12 second PB! I was thrilled! I also hurt quite a bit and was relieved to see my regular massage therapist David McKee on hand to help release the back, glute, and Piraformis.

He did a good job of averting a full lock up, but there was no thoughts of a warm down. Instead it was catching up with plenty of other runners and waiting for the presentation where I would receive just my second ever prize (My first came at the Taunton Marathon in 2011, where I also finished third). £25 the richer and with a new PB – a very successful evening’s work!

Third place prize, presented by Ruth Dunstan.


Summer Solstice 10k–Friday 20th June 2014

It was never going to be the easiest race to make in the first place – a 7:15pm start on Friday Practice Day for the Austrian GP – a day when normally I’ll often not be done and dusted until gone 8pm. Throw into the mix an early afternoon hospital appointment with my wife in Nottingham, a short affair in duration that threw up more questions than answers; more uncertainty and doubt when what we really want and need is clarity and assurance.

I would not have considered racing were it not my second claim club Grantham RC’s flagship race – the Summer Solstice 10k. From what I’d seen in the preparations for the event, the committee had pulled out all the stops to host a race punching well above its weight when you consider how youthful and relatively small Grantham RC is compared to more established clubs. If I could not help in the operations of the race, the least I could do was to turn up, race, and hopefully secure a relatively good race position.

With just a couple of hours to finish work that would normally take four, I somehow reached a state where I could leave to head to the race HQ at 6:30pm. Thankfully I’d thought to have all my kit laid out ready to change, which I managed in less than three minutes. I was soon in the car and heading to Long Bennington, approximately 12 minutes drive from Grantham. I was out of the car at 6:55pm and, after the merest attempt at a pre-race stretch, I embarked on an equally half-baked attempt at a warm up run. Normally I like to arrive around 90 minutes before the start of the race; today I had to condense all those preparations into 20.

Alone at the Start

I wormed my way to the start line with around three or four minutes to spare. My mind was buzzing with thoughts of anything but the race I was about to take part in. I felt distinctly detached from those around me, as though I really didn’t belong here. I didn’t bother to look around to see what the competition was – I heard the quickest entrant a few weeks back had estimated a 34 minute finishing time, so it was possible I could, on a good day, be somewhere near the front.

Starting Next to Mr Livesey - The Closest Anyone Got To Him All Evening.

As we lined up on the start line, the minute warning given, I stood still – eyes staring into the still bright evening sun. My mind may have been foggy but the weather conditions around me could hardly have been better – blue skies and not a breath of wind. It may have been a touch on the warm side but I’ve for a long while, ever since I began running on the F1 Grand Prix circuit essentially, considered a hot race something of an advantage for me, once I’d established, perhaps wrongly, that coping with the heat whilst running is mostly a case of mind over matter. The shades would justifiably stay on for the entire race.

The start of the race.

From a countdown of five the race was off exactly on time. It took around 20 meters of running to establish exactly who was going to win, and win at a canter – Ben ‘2:17 London Marathon’  Livesey, who ran 29:28 at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k last November, was entered, racing, and going to win. He inexorably and effortlessly glided away from the rest of the field, from the look of the pictures of him racing barely breaking sweat as he coasted to a course record 31:58.

Seconds After the Start and Ben's Gone.


All Too Easy For Ben...

Meanwhile I found myself in a group of around ten runners which quite quickly whittled itself down to around six. I was sitting fifth overall when we remembered Ben was racing, I made a brief surge at around a mile to take second position, but at that moment my mind switched irrevocably from thinking about the race to mulling over matters deeper. The first mile was pretty swift – 5:26, it felt comfortable but not a pace I could sustain with my mind in another place. Fairly soon I found myself fifth and gradually losing ground on the third and fourth place runners, conversely easing away from the sixth placed runner. I was, metaphorically, physically, and mentally in No Man’s Land.

The Summer Solstice course is a rural square shaped countryside course, with hints of the fens that lie not far to the east. This makes it a somewhat lonely race, low on spectators, with mostly straight to gently meandering lanes to run along. The second mile came at the first turn – I clocked 5:44. The next road to run along was around a mile and a half long and I had little but the occasional passing car to break the loneliness. My mind at this point was in something of a turmoil, questioning the point or purpose of racing. This is in stark contrast to the runs of recent times, which have provided a lifeline in attempting to bring clarity the subject of such gravity.

Keeping A Gap On The Sixth Placed Runner

Through the third mile in 5:45, I passed the 5k marker in approximately 17:40, not bad for a June 10k when hayfever can wreak havoc with my running. Not long after passing the halfway point there was another left hander and the only humour of the race when an enthusiastic, but possibly naive volunteer at the race’s only drink station, elected to hold the cup of water high above his head for me to grab. I declined his cup and went instead for a child’s, who held it at a far more comfortable waist height. One sip to wet the back of the throat and a little over the back of the head and that was it for race refreshment and straight into the only significant climb of the race, which in reality amounted to little more than a drag.

Racing Alone

It was enough though for the third placed runner to slow significantly, both I and the fourth placed runner closed on him rapidly so that by the fourth mile (5:46) the two ahead were running together and I was around 20 seconds behind. The fifth mile I cannot recall running any slower but it was logged as 5:54 (Adjusted to 5:44 on Strava GAP, so presumably it was a slight incline over most of the mile). I’d had a few cheers of support from marshal’s who recognised the Grantham RC vest but not necessarily the runner. Into the final full mile of the race and I passed Scott, who was a marshal with his son. He willed me to push on to try and catch the two in front of me. I tried, and I did manage to close the gap somewhat, but they were seasoned, experienced runners who knew too how to extract that little extra something in the final throws of a race.

Pushing On To The Finish

As we entered the final four hundred meters of the race I pushed fairly hard but not as hard as I could have in better circumstances – I was satisfied with what I’d done. I finished fifth, with my fourth fastest 10k time – 35:36. All things considered a good result, and maybe the last result of any significance for a while as efforts focus elsewhere to things that really matter.

Swiftly recovered, I picked up my memento pale ale and half pint glass (The glass will see use – the ale is up for grabs to anyone who likes beer….) I chatted for a while with fellow club mates who finished, but soon had to leave – there was work at home still to be done. It was a shame I couldn’t enjoy the race more, it pulled off the rare trick of being a slickly run, fully chip timed race with the atmosphere of a small summer village fete.

I hope very much to be able to race here again next year, with the mind all clear. With everybody who I hold dear – here.