Here’s a report on some races I took part in this Spring: the Eastleigh 10k on March 20th, the Pen Selwood Tough 10k a fortnight later, the Southampton half marathon on April 24th, and the Endure 24 hour relay on the 11th—12th of June.
The Eastleigh 10k has a reputation for being flat and fast, and as such is very popular; this year there were over 2300 entrants. I started too far back (the start line is not staggered by expected time) and had to fight my way into a reasonable position. Then I went too fast trying to make up for lost time. But for some reason, maybe because the course was so good (or, perhaps, because just as I was starting to flag I overtook two people I knew — Julian Rathke and Martin Stevens — and didn’t want them to pass me back), I was able to maintain the speed and finish in 40:08.
The Pen Selwood Tough 10k is almost the polar opposite of the Eastleigh 10k. It’s extremely hilly, and typically has a field of ~100 runners. I went far too fast in the downhill sections and didn’t have enough energy left to run well uphill. I had to stop and walk for a couple of minutes on the steepest section where the gradient approaches 20%. A few people overtook me here and I finished in 11th place overall, with a rather disappointing time of 44:01.
The Southampton half marathon would probably have gone better if I hadn’t raced at parkrun the day before. The course has been slightly altered from last year to go through St Mary’s stadium, which was nice. Overall I had an unhappy time and had to walk for a minute, but I recovered towards the end and managed a strong finish. The time was 1:37:47, about three minutes slower than last year.
Finally, Jon and Elaine Noble invited me to join their team for the Mizuno Endure 24 hour relay. The race bills itself as ‘Glastonbury for runners’, running from midday Saturday until midday Sunday with entertainment, plenty of facilities, and a large campsite. The course was a fairly hilly 7.75k trail loop through some Berkshire woodland. Our team had five runners, who operated on a rota until 2am and from 7am until the end, and two walkers who walked laps in the early hours while we slept. I ran 5 laps in total, with increasingly stiff legs as the day went on. My fastest lap was 36:45 and the slowest was 42:39. The best lap was the one I ran just before midnight, when the forest was silent, and I was running by the light of my headtorch and the few fairy lights strung among the trees. I’m not sure I like endurance running. It was hard work, and not much fun at times, but it’s quite satisfying to have finished.