Dave Powner Reports: I’m not a regular 5k runner, but was hoping to shave a second or so off my PB which I achieved here last year. Being almost completely flat, I had determined an even pace all the way was what I needed
Before the main event, there was an under 11s race. Much rain had left the start area quite soggy. Within the first 400m, two kids had hit the deck in the slippery conditions. This was in stark contrast to the previous year’s ideal weather.
The start area was a wide patch of grass, with the keen runners starting around 20 abreast, either side of a path wide enough for one. I positioned myself third from the front, but with a field of around 120 runners, this meant I was up to half way back.
Within the first 100 meters, we were squeezed into about 5 abreast, past the tree with sticky-out flexible branches, thwacking me and every other leftmost runner in the face, as they whipped back from the runner in front.
Before long, I managed to get off the grass and onto the nice tarmac path. Then a runner appeared heading in the wrong direction.
“I’ve dropped my car key!”, he yelled.
I immediately looked down to scan the floor, and it just happened to be there right in front of me. “‘Ere y’am, mate!”, I shouted. Five seconds later, he was back ahead of me again.
I was moving quicker than those immediately in front of me, so I was periodically moving back onto the grass to overtake, and found myself wishing I’d chosen my trail shoes. We then moved onto the proper canal tow path, and I refrained from overtaking for a short while, because I knew we were coming up to the bridge under Blaydon Road. I grew familiar with this sheltered spot as a teenager with a couple of cans of lager, and so knew it was wide, dry and paved. Or as I would refer to it these days “good for overtaking”. Despite the minor hold-ups, my first kilometre split was on target.
We then took a sharp right turn to leave one canal towpath and join another. Runners in front of me were now clearly struggling in the conditions, so more overtaking manoeuvres were required. It was a little more difficult to achieve here, and for a while I wished I was wearing cross country spikes!
At the end of this second kilometre, we left the canal and were onto nice easy road. I was 6 seconds down on my required time at this stage. I didn’t worry, as I knew conditions from here would be much easier.
Alas, I didn’t make up a significant amount of time over the next kilometre. I must have switched off and lost concentration. Somehow, the fourth kilometre took significantly longer, despite feeling ok.
So I was left with a big ask to make up time in the last kilometre. I soon picked up three more places, but upon nearing the fourth, I could see no-one else in the distance. I lacked the necessary psychology and race experience to push harder, and so crossed the line 12 seconds short of my target.
Being of an analytical persuasion, I compared this run to last year’s effort. It seems that all of my time was lost in the first 2km. The third split was identical, so too was the fourth – particularly surprising given how slow it was. The fifth was quicker this year. So, many lessons learned here, for when returning to a PB course, most significantly “check your previous splits”!
An excellently marshalled race, which included a “Well done, Bournville!” shout, and a great technical t-shirt for finishers. The 5k PB will have to wait another 12 months.