An early start was required to get to Stratford in time for the 9.30 ‘kick-off’, and this had me seeing the beautiful sunrise at 6am, driving through low-lying mist, and recording a temperature of 4 degrees along the Teme valley. However, standing in the sunshine at the start was pleasantly warm, enough to shed the extra layers I had brought, and there was time to look around – and who should I spy but David B and Roland, amongst the 1479 entrants. Maybe I should get to training more often, or use Facebook, and discover what’s going on? Anyway, with my barcode fixed to my shoelace, I set off through the Start archway, determined not to get ‘carried away’ in the early stages (which in fact involved a steady climb most of the way to the 4th kilometer) – at one km I was ahead of my schedule (I’d planned on 5 min kilometers for the county 10,000m, and failed miserably there, so hoped today to manage 5 minutes 18), at 4.46, and despite a conscious effort to slow down I went through the 2nd km in 9.45. It was also beginning to get quite warm, and I moved over to the shady side of the road. Just before 5km, at the highest point of the course, we turned back for ‘home’ along a disused railway track, now a cycle and walking path. The kilometers seemed to flow past quite quickly, and relatively painlessly. By 2 km to go, the path began to wind through bushes and we came out onto the road, with the finish not too far away. At 1km to go, and with the harder road surface, I was beginning to struggle a bit and found younger runners (there were lots of them!) moving past me. That last 1km was long – twists and turns, over the river bridge, changes of surface and the finish area was visible but we were running parallel, in the opposite direction! Then finally a 100m dash over the grass to the line – well, other runners dashed.
The winner was Raymond Edgar, in 36.45, just 3 seconds ahead of the second runner. Of the three Croft runners, David had by far the best run, coming home in an admirable 42.48, 12th MV55 (the race was an England qualifying one, so there were some classy runners). I finished in 49.46 (4th MV75 – the 1st MV75 ran 42.46! 7 minutes faster than me) having caught Roland just after halfway. He was close behind in 51.01.
A well organised race, coping well with the large numbers (parking, loos, course, results), and fortunate to be blessed with fine weather.
It occurred to me afterwards, that Gary P, in his Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix race round Mont Blanc, would have had to run those 10km over 10 times more, and to have climbed some 6,000 feet in the process, and all in just over 23 hours! I think I want to go and lie down.