Sunday, 4 December 2011

Nene Valley 10

I picked up a cold after the Rutland Water Marathon which got in the way of my plans for the Six Dales Circuit and so I was happy to be able to enter the Nene Valley 10 as an unplanned race before Christmas. Many pre-Christmas races fill up early so it was good to be able to enter the Nene Valley 10 on the day of the race. The race HQ is at Peterborough Lions Rugby Club, a mish mash of temporary buildings including a large marquee and toilets. The showers are housed in portacabins. The race start is some five minutes away adjacent to a retail park in Bretton. The sun was out but it was cold, I warmed up jogging by the side of the retail park with other members of Grantham AC.  

Lots of colourful runners
At approximately 10.30 am the race director struggled to sound the horn and we set off along a ten mile urban route of  roughly two laps of five miles. The race is flat and fast but speed is tempered by many twists, turns and switchbacks. Runners race through housing estates, woods, alongside and over dual carriageways, through underpasses and over bridges. I set off fast and felt good with plenty of bounce in my legs. Stuart Sinclair of Grantham AC was just ahead and I decided to keep him in sight. My race plan was to get into a stride which I hoped to hold until 8 miles, after that I would assess how much I had left and hoped to able to push to the finish. Sometime during the first lap I passed Stuart who had stopped to tie a shoe lace. Only seconds later Stuart was back on my shoulder and went on to pass me almost tripping over a wandering  dog in the process. I was still feeling good at the end of the first lap but struggled to keep with Stuart as he ran on strong. The second lap was a version of the first and I was grateful to arrive at the 8 mile marker.
I was pretty tired by this point but managed to stagger on passing a couple of competitors in the final mile to finish in 1:06:19. A funny sequence of events happened at the finish. An 'old boy' with a wheeled shopping bag objected to runners using the footpath and so seemed to decide to walk across the approach to the finish with his chariot trying to trip runners up. We watched as a rather tall marshall 'guided' him out of the way. Some minutes later he returned and the situation began to look ugly. The fracas ended with both marshall and 'shopping man' trying to take photos of each other with their mobile phones perhaps to support a complaint to the relevant authority. It can't be any fun running to the finish of a ten mile race to find that you get taken out by a shopping bag on wheels 10 meters from the finish!
A strong finish by Robert McArdle
In addition to Stuart Sinclair and I, there was a good turn out of Grantham runners. Ever present, Arthur Short showed his class to finish in a super fast 1 hour 20 secs in 23rd position. Stuart stormed round the route and finished well ahead of me in 1:05:05 avenging my gazump at the Worksop Half Marathon.  Ben Hatherley finished just behind me in 1:07:01 another fast performance which will give confidence as part of his early London Marathon training. Club stalwart Robert McArdle finished strong in 1:14:02. Phil Hall 1:16:29, Crispin Read 1:31:54, Lucy Roberts 1:31:57 and Bill Lord 1:34:47 completed a good team performance (sorry if I missed anyone). 

After the race I retired to the temporary marquee and benefited from a bacon sandwich (£1) and a sausage sandwich for just 50p! what better excuse would you need to get out of bed early on a December Sunday morning to run the Nene Valley 10. A good no frills race over a slightly frustrating route but with good value food at the finish. The showers in the portacabins didn't work but showers were available at the nearby football pavillion.      

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