Race Report by Cal Oddy
At the beginning of the year I set myself a challenge to run more distance races than last year and improve my times for the races and distances I had taken part in last year. So this weekend I had to choose between The Regency 10k and The Run in the Forest 5 mile which were on the same day. Regency start time 9am – Forest 10.45am – I liked the idea of a leisurely start to the day and so I set off in the direction of Conkers wondering how the sixty odd Massey runners were getting on as they should have already started their race before I left home.
Registration is a 5 minute walk from the free car park and there was only a short queue to pick up my number. As I walked back towards the car park I was overtaken by the children doing their 1 mile fun run and then as I approached the start I saw David Mason and Jeff Heape…….. Hoorah! more Masseys …….
And so after a brief intro the 269 runners were off. After an uphill start on the car park entrance road we went up the kerb onto the grass verge and through a gate onto a narrow path. “Sorry about the mud” shouted the marshall ” but you go downhill now”. What a joker …… we carried on climbing, two abreast at the most, I got my feet tangled in a bramble that was waiting to ambush me on the side of the path and thought I was going to come a cropper after the first 500 yards….”oops” I said to myself (actually it was probably something stronger than that).
I could see the runners up ahead of me coming to a dead stop – waiting to go single file through a bicycle barrier that led us on to the main road. A left turn and we were still climbing up the narrow footpath with no chance of overtaking anyone. As we climbed I could hear two ladies behind me discussing their recent races and some they were planning to do next. They were not impressed with the Cathedral to Castle plastic medal but were looking forward to the May the Fourth and July the Turd (sorry, not a missprint) races. As I did the not too fragrant Wolf run last weekend and my birthday is on July 3rd I may check out the second one later.
We finally turned left away from the main road and back onto a nice wide forest path where there was plenty of room for all. I was going at about the same speed as a man and lady in red (is there a song there?) t-shirts from Uttoxeter Runners and the path was now flat, even slightly downhill, in places…”strong and steady” was my mantra as I stayed with them. After about another kilometer the lady decided to walk and I kept on Mr Uttoxeter’s tail. Towards the end of the lovely long straight path where the course starts a hilly loop, the front runner whizzed passed us at breakneck speed going in the opposite direction towards the finish. According to my mental calculations that meant I was nearly half way. And so we began to climb again, me and Mr Uttox were neck and neck uphill and down dale, I stuck with him like gorilla glue. We passed a short section of the canal, at which point he reminded me of the really steep hill to come. Oh yes, I remembered walking up it last year. A sharp right turn and there it was in front of us, the top was out of sight as the path twisted off into the distance. Mr U began to walk , “come on I said” as I passed him.” No, you carry on” he replied ” I’ll catch up with you later”.
“Not likely , I’m a Massey Golden Girl on a mission to get a course pb” I thought to myself… time for a change of mantra.. “I love hills, they are my friends” over and over I repeated it until I got to the top, – no walking for me today. Soon I was running downhill again, what joy!!! but still no sign of Mr U. At last there was a sharp right hand turn onto the long path where I had seen the lead runner, and what now felt like a gentle incline and only another kilometer towards the finish. I knew I was doing better than last year and was spurred on by the last marshal saying it was only 80 metres to the finish, he forgot to mention it was uphill but it just felt really good to see the line.
I was handed a very welcome bottle of water and goody bag containing Haribo gold stars, a chocolate granola bar and a couple of flyers for Team Tours Travel. I checked my watch and was very pleased to see that I was just over 3 minutes faster than last year. Result!!! The mini land train passed in front of me, carrying smiling small children and their families around the park, I felt as happy as they looked as we waved at each other.
Did I enjoy this race? Yes.
Would I do this it again? Yes, definately.
What could make it better? A few more Massey runners for company.
Is it for you? Not if you’re looking for bling and a t-shirt, but you could always take a small child with you and enter the fun run first if you are desperate for a medal 😉