Give your town the run around 2016, was my first ever race. I was training for my first half marathon and this race in my hometown popped up in the middle of training, I thought it would be a good idea to get some race experience. The event has 3 races, 2k, 5k and 8k, I took part in the 8k both last year and this year.
Last year I crossed the line in 45 minutes, which I was happy with considering I had a terrible stitch from the get-go, this year, again, in the midst of half marathon training I managed a 35 minute 8k, knocking 10 minutes off my previous time, this just goes to show all my speed work and tempo runs are paying dividends.
The course is really good, there is a high street start/finish, lots of hills and even some off-road running, which I have literally no experience of apart from this race and the occasional towpath. I wanted to conserve my energy for the first mile then run at a target pace of 07:30 min/mile, until the last mile where I would really kick it and aim for a sub 7-minute mile
The first mile or so is a rather large ascent, however, I was feeling good, I had no previous niggles in my knee, and race day adrenaline was kicking in, I set off at a decent pace of 7:30 for the first mile, which set me up nicely for the rest of the run.
Once I had climbed the monster hill, it was into the woodland to tackle some off-road running, I have no experience in off-road running, so I found someone with a similar pace to mine and sort of followed their movements, avoiding rocks, puddles, mud and crossing narrow bridges. This was so fun, as most of this section was downhill and quite technically challenging, trail running is something I will definitely look to do more of.
As you come out of the woodland area, we were back on a paved road, joined by a huge group of motorbikes who were obviously on some sort of club outing. This section was mostly downhill and I could really up my pace, notching a sub 7-minute mile, and overtaking quite a few more senior runners.
When we were back towards the town, we joined a lot of 5k and 2k runners who were on the course, I saw 2 people who were running the 8k in front of me and I made it my mission to not lose sight of them. We were then taken into Barclay Park, to run around a lake and up another hill, I actually managed to get past the 2 8k runners at this stage. There was a lot of kids who ran the 2k walking up the hill, trying to swerve in and out of kids was a little bit annoying, but we got to the top in the end. Once you are at the top of the hill it is pretty much completely flat until the finish, so I put on the afterburners and gave it everything I had left in the tank, my last 2 miles were both sub 7 minutes, which i was really pleased with considering the hilly profile of the course.
After a sprint finish, i came in at an offcial time of 35:33, 2nd in my category and 11th overall, which is a massive improvement from last year. It just goes to show hard work pays off. Next year i would like to get into the top 10 finishers for the 8k race, i sadly will no longer be in the male under 20 category, however, and will be competing against the “big boys”.