SALFORD 10K START . 515 ANTONY FORD WITH 616 ANDI JONES (4TH)
Good Friday. A 14th. Easter visit to the City of Salford, Greater Manchester. Twice in the '60s to run the Salford 7.5 mile road race and a dozen times in later years to run in the metric version , the Salford 10K. It's certainly not the scenery of Salford's Kersal district which draws mainly club runners to this 2 lap event and the demolition of the Cussons soap factory adjacent to the start did nothing to lift the spirit.
No, the attraction is the potential for a fast time but unseasonly high temperatures into the '20s were dominating the prerace banter. However, if many were fearful of a tough morning's run it wasn't evident by the many dozens who overtook me and sped away in the first mile. Most of whom I would see again as they wilted on the second circuit.
The Blackpool Stanley Park 10K (43.28) in early March served well as a benchmark for the training in the last 7 weeks and as that period had gone well I considered a time of 43.00 would not be too unreasonable a reward.. Question was could a pace of 4.18 per kilometre be maintained in the adverse conditions. I couldn't see any chance of acceleration as in the Blackpool race; today; it would just be a case of survival and sticking to the task....if possible.
On the second lap I was finding the air quality becoming quite problematic but resisted the temptation to use the inhaler and in fact seemed to be coping better than most and continued to pull through with 4.20 4.15 splits to 7K. Air quality not helped by a strong wind which came up and blew a dust cloud towards us on the back straight. Lovely! A 4.27 split for that 8th K resulted somewhat below target pace and would mean no let up over the last 2K.
I had to dig deep at this point but at least I was still overtaking. I passed one runner clearly on the point of collapse; legs buckling and dangerously swaying into the path of passing cars. He was quickly supported and eased towards the finishing line. A line I cross with timekeepers calling out......42.59. One second inside target time. Survived! My new warn weather mesh club vest did the trick.
Looking at Pat's race pics one of the runners with me at the end of the first lap, a seemingly strong, fit looking young man, ran 7 minutes slower on the second finishing in 48.25 and 118 place behind. It was that kind of day. Some coped. Some didin't. Perhaps those who are blessed to be able to train in daylight all the year around are more used to the heat, who knows?
A pleasing time then but only good enough for 5th in the M60 category (of 18) with 3 M65s also in front to further add to future motivation. At the sharp end, fellow Sale member Antony Ford (one of 17 Sale Harriers who raced) just edged out Matt Pierson Of Holmfirth but failed to break 30 minutes. The heat meanwhile didn't seem to hamper young Lauren Howarth of Leigh who finished a tremendous 10th overall in 32.33 to win the ladies section.
So, that was a fairly Good Friday. A hot and sticky start to the Easter holiday break which fortunately continued up in the Lake District for the rest of the weekend.
I leave you with a shot taken above Lake Windermere taken towards the setting sun.....