With the frustration and fatigue of my London Marathon result fading, it was time to focus on the next chapter of my running career. Mixing it up, I’m concentrating on the short distances from a mile to 4 to get those legs going again.
Searching the online race directories (including RunBritain and local race info compiler OxonRaces.com) I found there was a 3 mile race in just a couple of days, it was local and would cost just £3.
It was part of the “self-transcendence series” inspired by an athlete and spiritualist named Sri Chinmoy.
The four-race series uses the Peace Mile around Oxford’s Cutteslowe Park and comprises of 2, 3 and 4 mile races.
Looking at last year’s results it appears to be a quiet series, with only 30 to 40 people at each race but a range of paces that I’d sit nicely within. The only drawback was that the first race was on my wedding anniversary and I was due to go out for a meal with my wife.
Fortunately I have an amazing wife (that’s why I married her) who could see that this 3 mile race could kick start me again following my marathon disappointment. And we could go out once I got home. Result!
There were some familiar faces from the local running scene but no-one that I knew to talk to and no-one from my own club, Witney Road Runners. There was a real mix of runners and a relaxed, low key feel with some of us opting to wear club vests with others just wearing plain shirts.
After a simple sign up and depositing the £3 entry fee (£5 if you’re not EA affiliated) I had a quick warm up before we assembled on the start line, with what felt like half of Abingdon Road Runners – they made up more than a third of the field! There was still a little congestion as we all tore off towards the grass but the field soon thinned.
The loop has a mix of grass, gravel and tarmac and is mostly flat, with a hill after half way, but that means you’ve got a downhill toward the finish line!
As you pass the start/finish line the organisers are counting out the race clock so you have an idea of your pace. I was positively surprised and slightly alarmed at a six-thirty-something given that I had no idea of what I was going to be capable of.
A controlled second lap followed where I was joined by a face I recognised who then helped to motivate me round the rest of the race. A very encouraging Andy Phelps of Headington Road Runners acted as a great pacer, a marker to hang on to.
Heading into the last few hundred metres my pacer instructed me to push on to the finish and I crossed the line in 19:46. Quicker than I expected, even taking into account that the course appears to be slightly short. And on reviewing the results, I was second Senior Man – admittedly, 2nd out of 2!
There are no medals but there was water and jaffa cakes to enjoy so I stayed to applaud the remaining runners home and found myself part of friendly impromptu running conversations with other runners. And then realised I had an anniversary dinner to get too so rushed back to the car!
Despite the small field and relaxed feel, the atmosphere was welcoming and supportive and I can’t believe more runners aren’t partaking in this very cheap accessible race series.
I shall definitely be taking on the 2 mile race on 22 May as well as the 3 mile race a week later (celebrating the 30th anniversary) and am gutted that I won’t be in the UK to complete the series with the 4 mile race in June. Hopefully I’ll see more clubmates join in at the future races.
I’m not sure it has anything to do with Sri or his principles but this race has really lifted me and provided a spark to my running again. I look forward to seeing what I can do at the future races.
“Running offers us the message of transcendence. In our running, every day we are aiming at a new goal….. … every day we are running towards a goal, but when we reach that goal, we want to go still farther. Either we want to improve our timing or increase our distance. There is no end. Running means continual transcendence, and that is also the message of our inner life.”