This race is becoming a regular fixture in my running year as I combine it with a family trip to Norfolk for Easter. This was the tenth running of the event and the fourth time I had run it. It’s a smallish (but growing – a max. 700-strong field allowed this year) friendly event, well-organised, with good support and on a pleasant course.
There’s a kilometre out and back to Whitlingham Broad and then two laps of a 4km circuit which has small hill on it. The hill only gains about 40m of height but is enough to break the rhythm. A few weeks ago I had felt good after a solid (for me) cross season and I had high hopes of breaking the ‘magic’ 40-minute barrier for a 10k in this race.
Conditions on the day were pretty much perfect with almost no wind and a temperature of about 8 degrees. However, I hadn’t had a good couple of weeks leading up to the event and from soon after the start I knew that I didn’t have that extra ‘go’ in my legs – I would have to batter my way round to try and get close to 40 minutes. In the first k a lady ran past me and said ‘go on Bournville’ – I realised later that it was the lady’s race winner and Birchfield Harrier Sian Khan.
I’d started fairly strongly and near the front of the field so inevitably runners started to pass me as my legs realised that they weren’t as strong as they should have been. I kept pushing on though and was able to hold a fairly good place – latching on to runners if they did pass me to try and give me a mental boost. Despite the modest size of the hill I struggled on it and looking at my GPS read out afterwards it really did dent my average speed – the descent down the other side didn’t make enough of a compensation.
I did find the race tough (yet still enjoyable!) and had to really dig in. Maybe the race needed to be longer as the second time up the hill I acquired some of that zip I had previously been lacking and so I really pushed myself over the last quarter of the race. From the bottom of the hill it is just over a kilometre to the finish rising slightly and then levelling off. With about 750m to go I lifted my pace a little. In the last 200m or so the route runs along one side of a hedge and doubles back into a car park for the finish. And so you can look across to see the finish gantry.
I glanced across and saw 40:15 and so knew that a sub-40 run was out but a pb was still on. I really pushed it and crossed the line with a chip time of 40:37 a pb (by 31 seconds and about 50 seconds quicker than my time on this course last year) and 57th place over all (out of 576). I had to be pleased really despite wishing that I had run 2.3 seconds a kilometre quicker!
It’s a good event if you are over in that part of the country but it does sell out quickly now so be warned. I must make mention of the goody bag – a nice medal, banana, bottle of water, Haribo, can of disgusting (in my opinion) energy drink, peanut snack bar, Mars bar and, being Easter, a Creme Egg. Normally I pass the latter on to my wife but I now understand that they are not what they used to be so my daughter ended up with it!
The promoting club, City of Norwich AC, took the top four places with their Joe Skipper winning in 33:04. Sian Khan was first lady in 37:23.