Whilst the Sneyd Pudding Run had turned distinctively teal, I headed in the opposite direction to Telford, for the 10km race which I had signed up for before joining the Harriers.
The elites (sub 40) were already underway by the time I arrived to find the designated car park full, and cars had begun lining the slippery grass verges down the main road.
The walk to the start area took you along a small portion of the route, along a wet but firm track of a beige, dissolving gritty substance. It was inevitable that soon, our legs were to be festooned with splatters of a matching hue.
The start area was pleasant, with a visitor centre, pond, and playground, but there was nothing specific to cater for the runners. There was not even a baggage drop area, so I left my belongings in a corner of the playground, which at least would act as an incentive to finish and get back quickly!
There were at least 500 of us stood in the start pen, approximately 10 abreast. There was no indication of where to stand for your pace, so I stayed put. We set off bang on time, and were immediately greeted with a downhill. Unfortunately on this occasion, the cons far outweighed this particular pro. The path soon thinned to accommodate just 4 abreast, and I found myself having to put the brakes on, as we careered downhill. When it was necessary to overtake, this could only be achieved by straying off the path, onto the muddy, slippery, hazard infested verges.
Then we emerged, beige from the knees down, onto the Silkin Way. This is an excellent, flat, maintained, tarmac rural path for running, wide enough for 3 abreast. The masses thinned out, and ten minutes into the race, I was running amongst people of similar pace.
If ever you’ve been in the car, where the lanes are a bit too close together, and you get passed by a juggernaut, and pointlessly “breathe in”, then you’ll understand how things felt a few moments later. At the 3km mark, there was a turning point. This was an “out and back, back out and back” course. That is such a shame, as the Silkin Way is plenty long enough to make this a plain old “out and back” route. So with the oncoming runners reducing the path to one and a half abreast, coupled with the occasional cyclist / dog walker / couple holding hands, you had to overtake / be overtaken with extreme care and forethought.
Pockets of support were to be found at strategic spots along the route. As the only Bournville Harrier in the race, it was a very pleasant surprise to hear encouragement from a spectator, who had obviously recognised the teal. This says something good about the impact of the club, and I thanked him for his support with the little spare breath I had.
I crossed the finish line, cheered on by the small crowd that had gathered at this otherwise innocuous spot. Immediately beyond this, there was plenty of room for runners to linger and stretch, in the amphitheatre. There was simply a medal for finishers, no elaborate goody bag, but this was fair for the cheap entry fee.
There was a computer available to tap in your number to see your chip time.
Overall, this was an enjoyable race, but the PB potential is overhyped, unless you’re quick and starting at the front where you can avoid the congestion. I also suspect bad weather could make this quite difficult, but this year we were lucky!
Hopefully, this was the first of many races representing Bournville Harriers. Bring on the next one!