Race report by Alison Lowe
Women’s’ Running magazine have been organising a women’s only 10km race series for a few years now with about 10 different runs around the country- nearly all of them in parks. My first 10km race was in May 2014 in Sutton Park which I really enjoyed so when I saw they were returning to Birmingham this year I quickly signed up.
Having moved the events to a Sunday from a Saturday they were able to use Cannon Hill Park. I had not really been to the park before despite living nearby many years ago, so it was nice to explore somewhere new. I arrived in the park looking around where the race village would be and headed towards where I could see some people running – only to find myself in the middle of junior parkrun! I finally located the race village near the end of the junior parkrun course where the poor kids have to finish with a run up a hill!
Our race village centred around a band stand – a compact area with a few stalls, a bag drop area and the start/finish line. I resisted the temptation to spend any money and soon we were into a short warm up session. It felt quite a small event – there were 225 runners but with a wide variety of abilities with some club runners and some more novice. There were also several pacers ranging from 55 mins to 70 mins. I was pleased to realise I wanted to stay close to the 60 min pacer this time compared to the 70 minute pacer last time!
Soon we were off – one small lap around a boating lake and then on the first time around the big lap – where I first saw Maggie Morgan who was marshalling at the event. The weather was dull with a chilly breeze and I felt quite quick over the first couple of kilometres. The route was virtually flat and on tarmac paths until around the 3km mark where we crossed a field on the grass and into the woods. We were then on a narrow trail like paths through the woods – luckily the ground was pretty dry although there were patches of mud and quite a few brambles to avoid. Great cross country practice. I realised the 60 minute pacer was now right behind me – who did a great job and running with her large pacers flag in the undergrowth ! Out of the woods we were soon back to the start and onto the second lap. By this stage the sun had now come out and it was feeling pretty warm.
I had hoped to complete the run in under an hour but the wooded section had slowed me down and also I realised the course may well be slightly longer than 10km as my watch was ahead of the km markers. I tried to push a bit harder on the second lap on the tarmac and stick with the 60 minute pacer but as we entered the woods a second time she was moving ahead. The last stretch was slightly uphill making a last sprint hard work – I finished a little behind the pacer just 30 seconds over the hour.
At the end we received a medal, t-shirt and well stocked reusable goody bag .
Overall though a great event – and definitely one to recommend for any ladies wanting to do a first 10km. It was very inclusive event with a nice varied course in a lovely park –with plenty of space to run in from the start.
I look forward to returning to the park in the future to try out the Cannon Hill parkrun soon.