This popular local flat course is often a PB chance for many, but today due to the very strong winds PBs were hard to find, though some still managed it.
I arrived early at the Mountbatten Centre, partly to get a car space and partly to take advantage of a pre race massage from Jason the FLC sports injury masseur. It proved to be a good idea as the Centre was packed due to a dance event taking over much of it. Some runners were camped on the floor trying to find somewhere to sort out race numbers and attach their chips.
The warm up for most involved several laps of the running track, but I ventured out along the shoreline to see how conditions would be for the actual race, not bad heading out, but the last stretch coming home was not too welcoming!
Over 650 runners assembled on the track for the 5 mile race plus a smaller number mixed in that were doing the 10k. Even though myself and Pete, Ian, David and George had taken up a pretty decent place on the track, in hindsight we were still too far back as I saw some of my rivals making use of their favorable start, so was playing catch up from early on.
A lap of the track and out to the footpath/cycleway that leads towards Hilsea Lido, this wasn’t too bad with the wind to our side and slightly behind, I settled into a comfortable 6.20 pace, whilst watching Pete, Ian and Nick move impressively away. I don’t think conditions were too bad as we headed past the Lido and around the Lakeside 5k part of the course, I could just about see George and Dave Fleet moved past me, but I’m used to that now! After halfway I was still pretty steady, passing a few and being passed by others, Paul got past me, but I couldn’t hang on.
As we returned past the Lido I felt the first impact of the strong wind into us and desperately looked for a group to shelter behind. The group were 5 mtrs ahead of me and I couldn’t close the gap, so struggled on, now losing a few more places to the shorter stocky guys who seem to cope better than tall thin ones like me! I saw a Stubby friend ahead and an even older friend Barry Hards who now runs for Salisbury, he is 57 now but was World Trail Champion in the 90’s, running the complete South Downs 80 miles at 8 min miles, a lovely modest guy, but not at home on short road races so I focused on these 2 rivals to catch. Once out of the headwind the last 400 mtrs beckoned so I made a concerted effort to catch Barry, which I did with 200 mtrs to go and then passed Mark with 100 mtrs left, my momentum took me past a couple more and I was home in 32.15.
To be honest I was pretty disappointed in my time, I’d been hoping for 31:30 or sub 32 at least but I seem to be slowing down rapidly these days, 5 minutes
behind my old 5 mile pb is a minute a mile slower so unusually I didn’t go for a post race massage or the results presentation. Turned out the other old guys are slowing down as much as me as I came 3rd v55!
As I drove home on the motorway I reflected more realistically and decided to be grateful I’m not injured and can actually run, especially after 30 years of hitting the tarmac, and to have such a lovely supportive Club to run with, who support all our runners whether fast or steady. That said, I’m still looking to beat Phil Chamberlain by at least 1 second at Stubbington;)
After collecting yet another race medal, I grabbed a water bottle and met up with the Crusaders who’d been shouting us home. I chatted to some of the great Crusader support team, including Jon, Neil, Phil and Mike as well as Andy and Mark who’d been out on the course. We then shouted home the other Crusaders as they came into the stadium with about 500 mtrs to go.
We had at least 24 runners finish, difficult to pick out too many individuals, as I don’t know everyone or their pb’s and I’m sure we all worked pretty hard into that wind, but I do think Ian Edwards had a cracking run as did Liz Farquharson 4th in her age cat. First home for our men was Pete Abrahams in an impressive 30.17 and first for our ladies was equally impressive Karen Willsher in 35.16 and 5th in her age cat.
Good to see a few Crusader stars coming back from injury, Debbie Taylor, Paula Williams and Martin Ward, and congratulations to all our finishers and many thanks to our supporters, no doubt I’ve missed a few, sorry.
Next HRRL race is the very popular Stubbington 10k in January, it’s already full with 1,900 runners, over 100 of which are Fareham Crusaders.