Saturday, 18 June 2011

The Inaugural Summer Solstice 10K

Race Director Robert Mcardle starts the first Summer Solstice 10k on behalf of Grantham Athletics Club.

It was time to answer the call of duty and help to marshall the inaugural Summer Solstice 10K organised by Grantham Athletics Club. 165 people turned out on a drizzly, slightly humid summer evening to lung burst their way down Valley Lane and back through Staunton and Staunton in the Vale.   

I watched the start of the race before running to the car, donning my fluorescent jacket and driving to marshall position 6 where I was to shepherd, encourage and cajole runners back towards Long Bennington. The lead car appeared some twenty minutes after we took our position closely followed by first runner Mike Chapman of Nene Valley Harriers.
Enjoying the race fun!
The first 10 or so runners were fairly spread out, then came a pack of approximately 10 others followed by a steady steam of athletes celebrating the end of the working week in style.

Mike Chapman maintained his lead to win the race in 35:16. First lady and fifth overall was Debbie Mason of Rotherham Harriers. Dawn Carter of Sleaford Striders propped up the field, with a strong finish and a time of 1:08:34. All finishers received a bottle of specially commissioned Summer Solstice Ale provided by the Sleaford Brewery and a voucher for a gourmet burger from the ale house barbecue. 

Post race comments were encouraging with runners speaking highly of a good value event. For a £7 affiliated entry fee receiving a bottle of ale and food at the finish can't be bad. One to enter early in 2012.    

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Redcar Half Marathon 2011

Post Race Radio Fun
What a difference a year makes. 2011 bought warm sunshine to the start of the Redcar Half Marathon which was in stark contrast to the previous year when it was cold and it rained. The trip to Teeside is a good opportunity to catch up with Becki and Whitty, friends from university and their daughters Lucy and Emily. Its also a good excuse to get 13.1 miles on the legs over a  fairly fast half marathon course.  The Redcar Half Marathon begins on the sea front at Redcar and then heads South for a mile before returning past the start and out North towards Middlesbrough along a dual carriageway
Paul and Support Crew
past a massive steel plant and returning along the opposite carriageway just before Grangetown.  Road race organisers find it increasingly difficult to gain the necessary consents to close carriageways to traffic but the Redcar race runs approximately 8 miles along a closed A1085 trunk road which means runners have plenty of room to run. Although there is plenty of room on the course, the start of this race was fairly cramped. Some 1500 athletes gathered to wait for Olympics swimmer and local athlete Joanne Jackson to start the race.
Finely Tuned Athletes
The previous evening we had to exercise extreme discipline not to get carried away with the stella and white wine. I think I managed better than Paul but the fine pasta prepared by Becki may have helped to soak the worst of it up.  Either way we were in better post alcohol shape than the previous year although I heard Whitty had been on a session on the previous Friday which can't have helped.I started steadily, cautiously aware of the possible effects ofthe heat from the sun mixed with the likelihood of mild dehydration from the previous evening's festivities. By Mile 7 I felt strong and had bounce in my legs that I wanted to exploit in the second half. I was surprised at how good I felt at mile seven but as I made the 180 degree turn to face the second half I became immediately aware that a strong tail wind had pushed me towards Boro and I was going to have to fight a head wind for the remaining six miles to the finish. The head wind was tough but I was grateful that the sun had hidden behind increasing clouds. I managed to plunder back to the coast road and battled mentally with myself to keep speed over the final two miles. I finished in 1:29:08 slightly disappointed. I thought I'd run faster and would have at least liked to have gone under 1:29. The positives are that I felt good over the distance and  the previous year I had only managed 1:31 in my first race since a grim bout of plantar faciitis which put me out of action for a couple of months. In addition I didn't get the best starts and the head wind might help add to excuses.  
Post Race Fun Chasing the North Sea
After the race I retrieved a medal and a t-shirt, had a quick wander to see the ships at sea and then went to find Tracy, Becki and the children. We watched in anticipation for Whitty to return and attempted to stop the children from injuring the finishing runners with there out of control scooters. Whitty returned in 2:03:42 which was 'remarkable' given the previous evenings shenanigans (I've seen worse). 

We all retired to enjoy the fun fair adjacent to the finish. We were interviewed inside the TFM radio bus. The interviewer, randomly wanted to know about a business idea which could be good for the local area. The best we could muster was 'indoor fishing' suggested after witnessing the same in Japan earlier in the year. I don't think it's going to go anywhere.... It rained heavily all the way back to Grantham and we witnessed the aftermath of an accident on the opposite carriageway including a military land rover on its roof. A couple of miles further we felt a bit helpless as we saw the air ambulance making steep round about turns high above the carriageway. It looked like it couldn't find the scene of the accident through the poor visibility but we obviously couldn't assist. 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Woodhall Spa 10K 2011

Way to go
A bit more speed work on a sunny Sunday Morning. The Woodhall Spa 10K is a popular race attracting just short of a thousand participants.  This race had escaped my planning and I was grateful to be tipped off about the race at the previous wednesday evening's Ropsley Six.

Woodhall Spa ia a small yet pretty, typical Lincolnshire town somewhere South East of Lincoln and 37 miles North East of Grantham. I had an appointment in Stamford at 2pm and knew it would difficult to do both race and appointment.

An Englishman's Home....
 I have no idea where this race went I just shuffled up to the start line and ran. The route was picturesque and the sun shone brightly I was glad I was only running just over six miles. I had decided to use the event as a training run. I couldn't stand another physically stressful all out blast as I had put in at Ropsley the previous Wednesday. I came home feeling comfortable in 84th position in a time of 40:49. The winner was Matthew Bowser unattached in 30:40, whoosh....

On the way back to the car I was accosted by the owner of the local caravan site. He was upset that people had been jumping his fence as a short cut to the start, fair enough but building a blockade whilst the race was in progress is perhaps taking things a bit far! I was happy to walk round. 

The Woodhall Spa 10K was a well organised race in a beautiful part of rural Lincolnshire. It was particularly good to be able to enter such a big event on the day. I was happy to pick up a t-shirt at the finish with a picture of Tornado aircraft on it. I assume there's a local connection possibly with an RAF base nearby. It was a shame I couldn't hang around to take in more of the 'big race' atmosphere at the finish but I had to get Stamford and made it just in time.    

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ropsley Six 2011

Off too fast
After the Ropsley Raid race in January I was back in the village for the annual six mile lung buster through Humby, Sapperton, Braceby and back along the final long straight mile to Ropsley. The village of Ropsley lies some way south east of Grantham. Its flatish and the 2011 event was humid with a cool wind head for the final mile or so making the later part of the race more difficult. the Ropsley Raid is as a local race, entry only on the day, it reminds me of the various Wednesday evening fell races  which I used to enjoy in the Peak District when living in Manchester. 

Scooby loves running.
The Ropsley Raid is an excellent low key "fun" run organised by Ropsley Road Runners. For a nominal entry fee each finisher receives a medal and more importantly a voucher for the bar at the Green Man public house which is adjacent to the start and the finish. The voucher can be used to purchase a drink to the value of £3.20 (as announced at the start) which is ample to buy you a post race ale. In addition there is a barbeque serving real Lincolnshire sausages with onions, mustard and tomato sauce. This year there was also a raffle. I bought three strips by accident and failed to win a thing but the pint and sauasage barm more than made up for it.

Real Lincs Sausages - Real ones...
I started the race too fast. Its amazing despite all your experience how you forget the rules from time to time. The sun had come out in Lincolnshire I had run a decent five miles at lunch time and consequently I arrived at the start with, in hindsight, too much enthusiasm. By mile two I knew I had overcooked it and tried to reduce the pace without losing too much momentum. By half way I decided I needed a easier second half and was grateful that a running friend pulled alongside and lead me through to five miles. During the final mile I managed to muster a bit of effort to overtake the three folks that overtaken me earlier. I finished strong but tired in a time just over 39 minutes (awaiting official results).

The folk at Ropsley Road Runners know how to put a good race. The Ropsley six is a fine evening out. In my four years in Grantham I haven't done a Ropsley six when the weather has been anything but sunny. Thanks to Ropsley Road Runners for a great event. If you live anywhere near Grantham put it on your list. In addition to the six mile race there is a two mile dash favoured by children. Finally it was noticeable that there were many potential novices who had turned out to have a go. Its a good accessible event to those curious at entering a race for the first time, give it a go its a cracker.