It’s already September and feels like I have not written a little race report in ages… Mostly because I haven’t! In fact, apart from racing at Duxford on foot today, the only other event for me so far in 2020 has been a TT on my bicycle hosted by BRCC. With all the new COViD restrictions around public events I wasn’t exactly sure what this would be like. But the promise of some late Summer sunshine, two athletes that I coach coming along too and a aircraft museum as a backdrop… Well what could possibly go wrong!!
Hosted by the Imperial War Museum, this event was always going to be a little different. Two race distances 5k or 10k. No way is my 5k time up to anything at the moment so I decided to throw my hat into the 10k race. As you might expect, both events were based around the runway (and a couple of taxi ways to make up the distance). The 5k being one lap and the 10 obviously two. The pre-race blurb making it clear that you were responsible for keeping your own count of how many laps you did. Yes…
For those that know me personally, it will be no surprise to hear that I adapted my playlist in honour of the venue. The Top Gun Anthem was track three. Which raises an interesting point about headsets. The pre-race blurb stated no ear phones, but as I am the proud owner of some AfterShokz I decided to risk disqualification (in this friendly, low key, non-affiliated race!). Most people were not wearing any earphones, but there were a few others with bone conductors. Didn’t seem to cause a problem for anyone, and I do think it made the event better from my point of view (never having competed with music before)!
Course itself was essentially flat (strangely!). But what we gained from the lack of curvature of the earth, we lost to the headwind. Anyone that knows anything about aviation will understand that runways are built with the locations prevailing wind directions in mind. And today it whistled down the runway on our way out. But a well laid out course with plenty of space to avoid being too close to anyone for too long.
The start was rolling waves rather than gun. On the face of it sensible, and in the final few meters laid out with “covid secure” markings. However in practice a complete waste of time! I queued for 15minutes or more to get to the “covid secure” area… in a VERY non-covid secure line! Whilst this didn’t overly bother me (outside on a breezy runway…) it seem to make the whole idea of the final few meters a bit of a token effort. I think I would have been happy enough with a mass start, scrap the briefing and ask people to line up for only the last four minutes before the gun. It’s an airfield, there was space. But the rolling waves worked well enough I suppose.
Pre-race there were the very traditional port-a-loo queues and these were certainly not socially distanced (the lines of waiting, nervous, runners). If you have every “experienced” the loos pre any other race then you will be “delighted” to know that “COViD Secure” has changed nothing about this part of the proceedings.
Post race, you had to collect your own water, snax and medal. But to be fair these were laid out on tables and didn’t feel any different to many other events.
Reading the pre-race blurb I was expecting something quite different. Arrival Windows and Start Windows and no milling around and one way systems… In practice you pretty much arrived when you arrived. You queued for the loo, milled around for a minimal time (who doesn’t want to crack on!!), bit of a delay due to rolling starts, but you could pretty much just start regardless of the race you were in (we started together even though some were 10k and others 5k). Post race you could sit on the grass, chat, drink coffee and then visit the museum.
To be honest – it was a really good experience and did not seem negatively impacted by having to be “covid secure”. I’m not sure how feed stations would have worked if it it had been longer though…
Of course the downside of rolling wave starts is that you have no idea where you are in the field. Especially as they were operating a 90minute start window. Bit like riding in a TT really. Kept my watch on Pace and tried to avoid the temptation of “chasing” to the next runner ahead of me. First 5k was 26:30 (ish) which was a tad slower than I had hoped for, but not so far off to give up and start taking selfies with the planes! Tried to keep an even pace, but my splits tell a different story (!). Unusually for me, I ran progressively slower each kilometre for the first 7k and then had a marked improvement in the closing 3k. The last K being significantly quicker. Average pace was 5:18/K but that last K was a 4:43… Clearly Top Gun music works 😉
Overall I was happy with my endeavours. Putting in a 52:45 chip time and finishing 38th in my age group (103). Just need to stay focused and build on this to get into sub 50mins.
More pleasingly the others that I went with also had a great morning out and enjoyed it. In fact during post race coffee there was much discussion about what to train for next. The running bug has certainly bitten them!
Nothing else in the diary for 2020 right now. But feeling inspired (as we all do straight after… right?) to find something. This year I wanted to tackle Duathlon. Maybe some late October Run / Bike / Run action… We will see.
But for now I shall eat my bodyweight in ice-cream and think about tomorrows coaching schedule!