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Race report: Blenheim Cancer Research Run 10k

September 29, 2009
tags: , ,

27 September 2009
Sunny, around 21°C

I personally love running at Blenheim, and a beautiful autumn morning in the historic park was always going to make for an enjoyable run. This was the first time I’d run a Cancer Research event, and – for obvious reasons – it was quite a different crowd from some of the more serious events.

Since coming to running afresh at the start of this year, I’ve noticed that there is usually an emotional aspect to races. Sure, you have the club kings who storm through the race in super-human times, but in the middle and tail of the pack there are always stories. I think I first noticed this at the Waddesdon 5km, where the crowd gave a heart-warmingly vocal level of support to a blind runner and the last man home. The first thing that strikes you about the Run 10k is the number of people who are running for someone, with various family tragedies detailed on their backs. As a publicity event, they’re a great way of raising awareness as well as money.

Blenheim on a perfect autumn day

Blenheim on a perfect autumn day

The race itself was a curious mix. Cancer Research provide everyone with a t-shirt, but since it’s cotton, I decided to wear a technical top to avoid any unpleasantness. However, I was in the minority, and it’s bizarrely difficult to judge the crowd’s ability level at the starting line. Although the crowd was separated into runners and joggers, the start was anything but seeded. I found myself having to cut through and around several hundred fellow runners to get to a comfortable pace.

Blenheim’s hills are challenging at times, and the water station at the 5km mark was just before the most brutal ascent of the course. Because of the hills, I hadn’t expected a fast time (I’d actually gone in hoping for anything under 45 minutes), but I managed to hang on to the leading pack. In the end, I came 13th (I think) out of a field of something like 1,500 (again, I think), which was a great motivational factor to keeping going as I rounded the 8km marker.

Tips for running 10km at Blenheim

  1. Some of the hills are brutal, but if you’re heading round counter-clockwise (as the Cancer Research run does), the climbs are only short. If you’re going the other way round, though, there is a long but gentle incline. However, for the ccw run, keep the power on when going up the hills if you can, because there’s always a down-hill section to recover in.
  2. The 8km mark on this track was pretty deceptive. You come very close to the finish line before doing a little loop on gravel to make up the distance. The gravel is hard work, so you’ve got the choice of running in the middle of the path where the surface is a bit more solid, or on the grass.
  3. Remember that the crowd at charity races is very different from the crowds at club events! If you’re planning on a fast time, start further up than you would normally. I must have had a slow first kilometer as I had to spend a bit of time weaving through the crowds to get some space to open up the pace.
  4. Remember where you parked! Most competitors turn up in cars and there are few landmarks in the middle of the parking area. If you can, find a tree, remember what that tree looks like and where it is in relation to other trees.
  5. Don’t rely on the group warm-up. I don’t think it happened on Sunday because the aerobics instructor was stuck in traffic. There’s plenty of space to do some jogging, and some good fences for stretching against, so you shouldn’t really need the instructor.


Finish time: 40:35 (PB) – note, this is rough race time, my stopwatch time was 40:12
Position: 13 out of c1,500

2km: 7:44 (missed first km marker due to crowds)
3km: 4:02
4km: 4:21
5km: 3:49
6km: 4:47
7km: 3:49
8km: 4:00
9km: 4:15
10km: 3:21

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