Sunday, 15 September 2013

Baldock 10K: will the hills ever end?

Today I ran in the inaugural Baldock 10K, starting at Newnham, to Bygrave, Ashwell, then back to Newnham. I cycled to the race start with my friend Tracey, since it was only a couple of miles away and we thought it would be a good warm up. We didn't count on our woeful cycling/gear changing and I forgot there were hills. So legs were a bit tired when we arrived!

The race HQ was located in an industrial estate, with the baggage store in a farmer's grain store (complete with combine harvester) and toilets in Reclamation Russell's office (if you see any mirrors, send them to Russell). There was BBQ (supplied by Chapman's butcher) at the start, and I had my eye on a bacon roll for when I'd finished the race.

The start was quite a walk from the HQ, up a farm track. Organisation was a bit hit-and-miss with the timing, the "timing man" couldn't get his van to the start line to put down the mat, so he had to carry all his equipment through the runners. (I did offer to help him but no-one else seemed bothered.) He just slapped the mat down randomly and we were almost ready to go. As usual, we (me, Tracey, and Ralph) were at the front, Dave Lawson has a lot to answer for.

I had a slight idea of the route from a pre-race report published on the organiser's website. I wasn't quite prepared for the muddy conditions though. The first mile was across a farmer's field. It started gravelly with some puddles, it soon turned into thick mud. My shoes were caked, and I was carrying extra weight on my feet. Made the first few km very hard.

Once we hit the road at Bygrave the mud started to fly off my shoes, although we were then hit with a hill for a mile. My legs were starting to protest! I picked up a young lad who seemed to be running a good pace and we ran together for the next few miles, chatting to each other every so often about our hoped-for finish times (about 50 minutes).

When we entered Ashwell we had more hazards to think about: the narrow pavements (couldn't run on the road because of parked cars), stone steps, bushes, and startled old ladies (my personal favourite). There was a nasty hill out of Ashwell, I had to push hard at this point (I'd lost my young man *sniff*). One of the runners behind told me at the finish that he'd been focusing on my back (you know he really meant arse) hoping to catch me up but I was "too strong". Hurrah!

A lovely flat stretch for the final mile was improved 100% by spotting Jane and her young support crew cheering us on. I could also see the smoke from the BBQ so I knew I was close. Unfortunately, a glance at my watch showed me I'd be very lucky to break 50 minutes, even if I ran a 7 minute mile. So I didn't. I resigned myself to 50-something and cruised home. Was lovely to see Ralph and Tracey with their medals!

My official time was 51:45, which I'm pleased with considering I had planned to run this as a training run for Standalone 10K, and in view of all those hills. (As I ran up the first hill, I vowed never to run a race around Baldock again, so please remind me next year when I'm considering Baldock Beast again.) Details of the run are below.

We obviously had to cycle home again, but first we stuck around for the presentation, because Tracey came third lady! Well done Tracey :)

The cycle home was hilarious. We couldn't get going up the hills, and Ralph (who ran home) was way ahead of us! He probably could've beat us home but, as a gentleman, he escorted us through the fields through Radwell back to Stotfold. So. Much. Mud. And tree roots. And just a lot of shrieking. Tracey and I have vowed never to do a triathlon.

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