It’s not often that a Bank Holiday weekend welcomes warm weather and I’m usually not one to complain but (there’s always a “but”!) it wasn’t the ideal combination for my effort to tackle the multi-terrain Newbury 10k. I don’t like making excuses so I went out there and gave it a good crack. And I wasn’t disappointed!
I must admit my knowledge of Newbury was limited to Swampy (and his battle with the A34) and the new Parkway shopping centre that my company helped to build. The Market Place was prettier than both The Wife and I expected and plenty big enough for the field of 1000 to assemble following not one, but two junior races. I quickly located Grundy, a friend and fellow Oxford Half runner, along with his best supporters and all round lovely couple, Rita & Dave, his mum and dad. It was good to have a catch up – it always helps me ease my incessant pre-race nerves!
Let me get one thing out there at the beginning for anyone considering the Newbury 10k. This is not likely to be a course for a PB. The course has some undulations (mostly short and sharp but they still took me by surprise) and there are large portions of the course that are off road: a mix of gravel, grass, tow path and potholed farm lanes really sapped my legs prior to the final 3km that were back on the terra firma of town tarmac!
There was a great crowd and atmosphere in the town although much of the course is in the pretty but quieter countryside. Luckily there were pockets of very vocal supporters dotted around to help keep you going.
The race officials cruelly taunt you by bringing you back into the town, just yards away from the Market Place finish at about 7.5km before sending you on what feels like another 10k along the Kennet & Avon canal towpath before turning back for the final kilometre and a bit. My legs were really starting to flag and I was struggling to employ my usual race strategy of ramping up the pace for the last kilometre. It was at this point that I need to take some of my own advice; I kept repeating the four things you need to take with you when running: R, I, B & S.
The reasons I run are plentiful so there is never a shortage of R. The inspirational people I have met since I started running who take on adversity and win provide me with a huge amount of highly-concentrated I. My super quick 10k run a week or so earlier in the dark, wind and rain helped top up my self belief so I had just enough B. Which just left a dose of “support” to complete my Running Quadrinity (I may have made that up, but in my head that’s the word like trinity but for four things!).
With each step I felt stronger and the “400m to go” board coincided with the return to the large cheering crowds (which I’m sure were just as loud as Super Saturday in the Olympic Stadium) so I steeled myself and began to tell my legs to man up. As I reached the “200m to go” mark, the distance I know I can run flat out for, I heard one shout above the din of the crowd: “Come on! Sprint!”My eyes couldn’t see her but I knew it was The Wife – my biggest supporter, the person who believes in me when my self-belief is draining, a massive inspiration embodying strong-will & determination, and the reason why I started running regularly. The very embodiment of my personal Running Quadrinity!
I felt like Popeye with his spinach, He-Man with the Power of Greyskull or the Power Rangers at “Morphin’ Time”!
The energy was summonsed and directed to my legs to power me flat out for that last 200 metres to cross the line in just 16 seconds over 50 minutes – my second fastest time in a 10k race! So despite the warm weather and difficult terrain I still managed a performance to be proud of.
The Market Place coped just as well with the finish of the race as it had with the start. Water, bananas, a medal and a goody bag (why organisers don’t just put the medals in the bags I’ll never know) were easily collected along with enough shade to catch my breath and steady my legs before rejoining The Wife.
The things I liked
- Well organised – the course was well signposted and the start and finish ran smoothly
- Good support – the crowds in town were large and loud
- Lovely scenery – although support was less frequent, the scenery made up for it
The things that I didn’t like
- Terrain – the mix of terrain really took it out of my legs
- Narrow in places – the towpaths and some of the lanes were only just wide enough for two runners
- Goody bag – as at so many races nowadays, the goody bag was a bit lame
Would I run the Newbury 10k again?
I would certainly consider running the Newbury 10k in the future but I’m not sure if it would become a regular on my calendar, especially as it was on the same weekend as the Westminster Mile and Bupa 10000 in London.
Newbury 10k 2013 results can be found at RunBritainRankings.com