As I sat comfortably in my dry warm car, letting the biro dry on the back of my race number, I looked out over the carpark through the heavy drizzle back towards Olivias snack bar. The delicious smell of sizzling bacon still tickling my olfactory senses, I wondered why I was thinking about running on such a day.
Unlike Massey Runners looking for extra last minute points on the Road Race League or wanting to have a time in every column on the table, I had no reason to race, especially as I can’t stand Christmas pudding. No other Massey Runner had arrived quite so early, no one knew I had entered so what was to stop me from grabbing a quick bite to eat and driving home rather than beast myself around one or two laps on such a grim day?
Even though the missing apostrophe from Olivia’s snack bar sign was playing on my mind, I decided to grab a coffee and batch and head home. Leaving the car, fate intervened, in the shape of a herd of Massey runners – Had I been spotted?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and as I replay that moment in my head, I realise that I wasn’t wearing the Massey red hoody so I very much doubt I was seen so I could have slipped back into my car and driven home with no one being any the wiser.
But instead I followed the Red and White Army into the hall, to dump my bag and meet up with the Massey group. Hitching up my elf tutu, (Yes you have read this right it isn’t the mulled wine effecting your vision. I had decided to entered into the Christmas spirit and dress up; my effort being a one size fits all – even Daniel (Okay just) – elf tutu and rather featuring elf ear and hat headband!) I saw I was joined by a Snowman, Christmas Tree, Mrs Christmas, more Elves and a Christmas Turkey! Some Massey runners decided, like me, a Christmas pudding race was all about the fun and a chance to dress up. Seven Scrooges however decided not to join in the festivities and actually properly race the event!
Making our way out of the centre we headed up to the start line, my heart still wasn’t in this race, but I knew from asking at registration I could decide to drop to 5miles mid race. With that in mind I left the temporary shelter of the bridge and huddled with the other starters ready for the off.
The closed road downhill start quickly spread out the runners as the racing whippets sped off. This was useful as soon the run turned onto unclosed roads, so runners had to stay on the pavement or hug the curb to stay safe during the first few miles.
My initial worry about the weather was unfounded as after the first mile the drizzle lifted, okay the sun didn’t come out and bathe us with winter rays but it stayed dry.
Before the first mile was out, like a Brimstone missile, Steve Damms shot passed me and disappeared into the distance! He was shortly followed by Cathy Keay and Andy Cutting but at a more leisurely pace but one I couldn’t match. On the long drag up the road, Pauline, from Kenilworth, passed me with the comment that she had forgotten how hilly this race was. Looking back over my Garmin data the actual total assent was less than 100m but it seemed to last the first 4 miles! Although this did mean the last mile was all downhill!
The amount of rain and drizzle before the race was clear on route as at one point the gully was full of cascading water into a giant puddle at a dip in the long ascent. Pavement and half the road were covered in water, meaning a risky diversion across the road or very wet trainers. However the signs of the race and the polite driving kept runners safe and dry.
Marshalling of this event was first rate – marshals on all the key turns although these were well sign posted. Even after the drizzle and the nip in the air all the marshals had an encouraging word or clap. For me this excellent marshalling was no more true than when I came to the end of the first lap, looking at my watch and considering how I was feeling I was tempted to call it a day, but the marshal on the splitting point could obviously see my 10mile race number and sense my indecisiveness and with a positive attitude shouted, ‘You’ve plenty of running left in you lad – keep going!’ so rather than taking the left path to the finish I started the second lap.
As I passed the centre the reality of my decision kicked in as I saw people eating bananas and having a rest. This was a bit of a low point, however the roar of encouragement from the marshals just a little further on kept me moving and stopped me calling it a day.
Lap two was a far more solitary affair, as the 5mile runners had peeled off leaving the 10milers to go round again on their own. The first lap acted as a perfect sorting of runners so overtaking and being overtaken were fairly minimal on the second 5 mile loop.
After passing the 8mile marker I was delighted as this was the furthest I have run for over 6 weeks and I realised that without this race, there is no way I would have gone out on my own to run 10miles.
Leaving the water station the elfish couple I had been following for the last two miles suddenly seemed closer. After doing some speed and distance calculations in my head, I realised I was slowly reeling them in. Those races within a race really help spur you on and suddenly my slow drop off in my pace was reversed as I set out to hunt them down.
With the Elves behind me I glanced down to my Garmin I saw I was on for my target of being quicker than my last 10mile race actually I was on for my gold target… Under 1hr 40, but I had to keep it going.
Turning the corner for the last ¾ of a mile, the downhill finish called to me. So onwards I charged, the bells of my headdress increasing their merry tune even more annoyingly than the last 9 ½ miles! But I wanted that time!
Enjoying a cup of coffee (Baileys coffee for the non-drivers curtesy of Birthday girl Emma) in the hall watching the presentations I mused back on a day that for me boded doom and gloom but finished, still not feeling inspired by running but with a PB (which I haven’t had for many a stone – I mean year!) and a good long run in the bag.
The biggest cheer of all the presentations went to our Award winning Turkey – Tiffannie who not only bagged herself a PB but did so in a Turkey outfit and so took away the best fancy dress prize.
10 mile results.
- 90 Steve Damms 01:11:45
- 267 Cathy Keay 01:31:13
- 270 Andy Cutting 01:31:55
- 283 Rachel Brock 01:34:07
- 293 Daniel Connolly 01:38:25
- 306 Natalie Deven 01:40:48
- 325 Nicola Ellis 01:49:27
5 mile results.
- 45 Carol Martin 00:43:28
- 62 Lesley Keighley 00:48:08
- 75 Tiffannie Slatford 00:52:37
- 83 Marie O’Connor 00:54:28
- 90 Ruth Mahon 01:00:25
- 91 Emma Cutting 01:00:26
- 92 Jane Damms 01:00:26