I generally tend to shy away from so called "mass participation" events with the exception of the Great Manchester 10K in my home town. But having finished only 4th in the M60 age group last year, though I'm convinced one who beat me was running as his father, I failed to win a "prize" entry. So instead I thought I would reaquaint myself with the delights of the BLACKPOOL promenade and race the BEAVERBROOKS 10K.
The 30th running of a FUNRUN which helps participants raise thousands of pounds for charity whilst giving "serious" runners the chance of a fast outing ; just short of 5K down to the famous Blackpool pleasure beach and (ideally) a fast belt back up the promenade. Simple. Simple, providing the weather is perfect!
But as is so often the case on the west Fylde coast the wind played a part in spoiling the party. Not so simple.
Very often we race in windy conditions and afterwards we say "the wind never seemed to be behind us did it?" Yesterday, there was no mistaking the way the race would go. True to the BBC weather forecast, chilly, strong south westerly winds brought flags along the promenade to horizontal and we knew the first half of the journey, south towards the Pleasure Beach would be hard . Very hard.
As usual I was still warming up as over 2 thousand other runners stood in place suffering the sea breezes. I came onto the course and slipped a few ranks behind the "serious" sub 40 minute runners. Many looked as if they were running their first race; never mind able to run sub 40 mins!!
I figured today then would be a case of participation. One for surviving the first 5K and trying to salvage something on the way back for a solid run. Nothing more.
And so it seemed as we went through 2k in 9.03. and followed with splits around 4.30 going through 5k in 22.26. But.......
I spy Spiderman now at the side of the road; he is peeling down the top half of his lycra suit. he has expired. The Olympic ring runners have broken rank. They too have unpeeled. The top half of their Morphsuits around their waists. Now they can breath!
But the relief of battling against the strong winds elevated the spirits. Unlike small races where it's often the case of running solo, here there was always someone to fight as they came past, always someone to chase, always someone to run shoulder to shoulder with. And so the acceleration came........
6th K....4.11.....7K....4.10.....8K 4.05!
Disappointingly we were not turned down onto the lower promenade at this point but carried on
slightly uphill past the start and we slowed to 4.20 but with plenty still to aim for,.....................
Somehow despite that first 5K we were now racing to dip under 43 minutes as we now turned onto the lower walk but for me the wind, now against us again for the last few hundred yards proved too strong and at least on my watch, I just missed out by 3 seconds but the results read 43.00 for a whole group of us.
But 3.50 for the last kilometre? Possibly a bit short?
Besides the "batch timing" be prepared for results only by age group if you ever run this one. At 63 I was put in the 55 and over group, not the usual M60 category, but was still pleased to finish 3rd of 170.
All in all a good day out on the coast but we could have done without that wind!