I ran this race because I wanted to do something different and it was quite near the in-laws. It is flagged up every year by the London Marathon, whether they accept you or not, and at first I thought who would ever want to do that? But I fancied a different setting on the Silverstone race tracks, it was billed as pretty flat (though we did run on several circuits which entailed running over bridges over other circuits) and it just beckoned me, so I entered.
The training had culminated in an 11.5 miler and I was happy enough, but got a fluey bug the week before and wasn’t certain whether to run or not. Feeling a bit brighter on the day, I decided to give it a go, and lined up at the start on the International circuit ready to go. There were several Runners’ World pacers so I aligned myself with the 1:45 guy, in the hope I could keep up. A smooth pace wouldn’t hurt after illness, would it? It was cold and windy, then warm and sunny, then cold and windy, so a funny weather to start with. I had seen the race layout which seemed to meander all over the place, off the International circuit, along here, over and under there, back on your self, a twist and over a bridge onto another circuit, along and round, back up, and back onto the first two miles, but in reverse. Yeah, confusing and boxed in in places. And less than flat at times.
So off I went with Joe Mackie, pacer, who valiantly managed the throngs around him, never put off by comments or jostling of any sort. I was quite happy until four miles, then started to feel over-hot and worn out, so I gradually fell back. There wasn’t much scenery as you would expect other then the backs of other runners, but some places became familiar. I passed Malcs and the kids at 3 miles, who roared me on, but felt like lead between 5-7 when I saw them again, as the kids ran over a bridge with me, waving and yelling that I was doing brilliantly. I really wanted to stop then and just join them. I remembered Malcs telling me on the walk there from the carpark (took about 20 mins) that that was part of the course, and getting over half-way was a big bonus at that point.
Miles 8-9 were probably the worst. Realising you have little strength and being overtaken as you plod wearily on isn’t great for your morale, but I knew I had no more to give, so had no choice. 10 miles was the psychological “homeward bound” point, and there were mile markers with times since the starting gun, so I just sang in my head till the next mile and the next, trying to encourage injured runners and those who had stopped or were flagging by then.
At 10 miles, I saw the family again, and as we entered the home straight, charity groups roared and thwonked their plastic batons together, which really lifted me. On the way back to the start, I thought, so I tested the pace, but still had no extra gears to notch up into, so plodded on up an incline, yelling encouragement at a wheelchair lady athlete who looked exhausted getting up that straight. I saw a few people collapsed, and it always reminds you that you have limitations, but wasn’t stopping at 11.5 miles for anything. The end seemed to take a while to get there, there was no sprint finish, just a continuation of steady pace. Again, seeing the family just before I crossed the line was great, and my daughter was waving frantically at me. If you saw the race photos you would see there is no delight at crossing the line, just a look of utter relief that it was over! To be honest, I don’t know how I got round as I did, it was slow for me, but could have been a lot slower, given how I was feeling.
Would I recommend it? Well, it was a one off, a flattish tarmac surface always bodes well for PBs when fully fit, but it was a weird course. I thought we would go round the same circuit 3 and a half times, not dart about all over the place. There was nil scenery other than other tracks, and I did not feel the excitement of being on the race course that I thought I might. So, I probably won’t do it again, but many others seemed to enjoy it and do well, a PB for Eian Thomas of 1:38 so I heard, and the pacers were brilliant. No, I will let this one lie, with happy reminders of the kids chasing me around, waving and yelling, and of the brilliant steel ska band which we boogied to before and after.