What a difference a year makes: Carterton 10k 2014

Like a comet orbiting the Earth, the Carterton 10k made its re-appearance in my running calendar today.  Each year it seems to hold something different for me and, ironically, this year was no different.

Updated on 17/03/14 to include revised chip time!

In 2011 and 2012 the Carterton 10k book-ended my charity challenge, seeing me run over 1,100km and raise more than £4,000 for Maggie’s in the process.  I was also rewarded in 2012 by smashing my PB – taking 3 minutes off and going sub-50 for the first time.

As a newly-qualified UKA Running Leader, the race in 2013 wasn’t about me – I was there to help two of my group achieve their goals.  The weather threw us all a curve ball too, with a blizzard descending just a couple of hours before the race!

And that brings us to 2014!

The weather was different.  The snow was absent, replaced by blue skies and sunshine – much warmer than we’ve been used to over the last few months.

And having 6 of my group taking part in the 5 and 10k races meant I could (slightly selfishly) aim for a personal PB as I could never pace all of them round.  I was also proudly wearing a Witney Road Runner shirt for the first time!

The other difference this year was that the race had sold out!  I’ve never known the race get much more than 50% of its entry limit in previous years.  Perhaps it’s a reflection on the continued increase in popularity of running.

It was great to see all of my runners and some running friends before the race.  All eager and nervous in equal measures.

Whilst the main part of the course was the same as in previous years, the start was different for the second year in a row.  Last year, with the snow, the grass start was treacherous so moving the start to firm ground was a big plus.  This was tempered somewhat by starting the race on a relatively small path, with two bollards to inject a bit of jeopardy!

The lack of a start banner, the differences in where the start was on the course maps and real life and no loudhailers to marshall the athletes all led to a sense of confusion at the start and as a result I struggled to find my rhythm in the early part of the race.  As the race joined the main loop the paths widened and the field stretched out giving everyone more space.

Knowing some faster runners can help and I chose to try to keep one of my running friends in my sights.  Even though Matt was coming back from injury and doing the run as a prep for the White Horse Half, I knew if I could keep close to him I’d secure a decent time.

With the heat beating down and my head still worrying about pace I found the race tough, much tougher than some of my quick training runs.  Thankfully, virtually everyone I spoke to said the same thing!

Another advantage of knowing other people in the race is that you also know some of the people there to cheer them on and in turn, they add some extra support to my own, very loyal supporters.  I still can’t explain to any non-runners how valuable a cheer of encouragement can be.  It really makes a huge difference so thanks for coming out to stand on the side of a road to see me pant past you.

I managed to ramp up the pace on the final kilometre (especially as I knew the last 100m contained a tight right angle bend and a hairpin) and made sure I left everything on the course.  So much so, I think it’s safe to say that I nearly left something extra on the course at one point!

Map showing the tight finish of the Carterton 10k
The finish of the Carterton 10k (& 5k)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crossing the finish line, I just about remembered to stop my watch.  The display said 47:54 and as I started my watch just before crossing the start, and stopped it a few seconds after the finish I thought “BOOM!” – a PB by nearly a minute.  Or so I thought.

After cheering and chasing in my group runners I joined the queue to get my official time.  Expecting to see a time starting with a “47” I felt deflated when the print out shouted “48:15”.  How could that be?

[Update: Turns out my suspicion was correct.  I’d been given the gun time of 48:15 but when the results went online this morning they showed a chip time of 47:43 – more than a minute off my previous best!]

The GPS isn’t always correct on the watch but the stopwatch is unquestionable.  I can only think that the “chip time” was actually measured from the gun, rather than when I crossed the line.  I’ll wait to see what the full results when they eventually go online.  I still don’t quite understand why it takes so long to upload computer-based results to a website.

As I write this post, after some reflection (and a nap), I have re-inflated myself and am so happy and proud.  And it’s not just because of my PB.  In fact, my PB was just the cherry.  The triple chocolate cake (guess what: I like chocolate) that sat underneath the cherry was the reaction from my 6 runners.  To see the smiles of relief, achievement and excitement on their faces reminded me why in just 3 weeks time I will be completing the first 2 days of the UKA Coach in Running Fitness course.

Now they can all reflect on their achievements and align their sights on new goals.  As will I;  I’m already looking forward to finding my next 10k – I know I can run quicker – but I’m equally looking forward to helping my runners take on their next challenge!

And in case you’re considering the Carterton 10k for next year here’s my quick review that might help:

Pros

  • Relatively flat course (although there is some undulation)
  • Good value (£13 for affiliated club members, £15 for others)
  • Good toilet/changing/baggage facilities (all inside the main leisure centre)

Cons

  • Chaotic start (very few announcements, start layout unclear)
  • Tight finish (a right angle and hairpin in the final 100m isn’t ideal)
  • Questionable timing (the chip times seem a bit slow compared to watches) [Update: The results given out on race day were gun time rather than chip time so less of a problem but still frustrating on the day]

Did you run the Carterton 10k or 5k today? What were your thoughts?  Do you agree with my comments?  Let me know what you think.

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