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Race report: Maylarch Eynsham 10k

November 29, 2009

29 November 2009

Overcast, little bit windy, spotting with rain, around 6°C

In my experience, there are three types of race that your common-or-garden runner can find themselves in. These are:

  1. Fun runs, such as the Cancer Research Run 10k series, where everyone and their dog (sometimes quite literally) joins in and timing and distance are rather informal affairs.
  2. Event races, like the Frieth Hilly 10k, where the race is organised to support fundraising, covers some scenic ground, and although fast times might not be in the offing, it still attracts serious club runners as well as your more occasional runner.
  3. Semi-pro speed tracks where the gradient of the course, the surface, and various other factors take precedent over scenery with some very serious and very fast competitors. The Maylarch Eynsham 10k is in that category (as was the Headington 10k).

I had spent some time reading the short programme that came in the post with the race number. I knew that I shouldn’t measure my success – or otherwise – by my position in the field. Frankly, any race that offers cash for the first sub-30 minute man and first sub-34 minute woman is going to attract some super-human racers. However, with the course’s reputation for PBs, and my own determination to go sub-40 this side of the New Year, I went with a target firmly in mind.

This was my first real race since starting to run with the Abingdon Amblers, so the first race where I actually knew a few people (although you tend to see the same faces after a few races). However, in order for my race to count for the athletics league tables, I needed to wear an Abingdon top – which I didn’t have (partly because I’ve not yet got round to paying my sub, so the whole exercise may have been rather academic anyway).

Kindly, one of the ladies let me borrow a club vest, which technically meant I was partially cross-dressing for the race. Not that I was in any position to make any kind of a fashion statement – it was chilly, so I’d reconciled myself to wearing some rather fetching lycra leggings and a recently purchased ‘base layer’ top. Base layer clothing is essentially designed to keep you warm. I hadn’t realised, though, that it was designed to fit quite so snugly until I put it on. It wasn’t dissimilar to wearing a long-sleeved girdle… I imagine.

A curious thing you’ll notice at winter road races with seasoned athletes is the number of people wearing bin bags. To the casual observer, they look a little like improvised straight jackets as these runners continue to limber up as they jog towards the start line, arms out of sight, bag rustling. It’s quite a sensible strategy, however bizarre it might look, as you inevitably stand around a bit, hemmed in by other runners, waiting for the starting pistol. During which time, as for this race, it can start raining and feel remarkably cold.

Tips for running the Maylarch Eynsham 10k

  1. Get there early and read the programme in advance! There were several runners who forgot – or didn’t know – to pick up their timing chips, and since race HQ is about 10 minutes away from the main car park, there’s no sense cutting it fine. Despite knowing I needed to pick up my timing chip, I was momentarily thrown by the signs for ‘Chips’, thinking that it was indicating the direction of some potato snacks. I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t the only one.
  2. Learn to pace the race, dammit! I set off way too fast, again, slowed down in the middle, again, and had to make it up at the end, again. Apparently, the best-practice strategy is to run the first half of the race slower than the second half. Maybe next time…
  3. Ditching the drink. Hydration is, of course, important in races. However, since it was cold and raining, my chances of overheating or dehydrating were pretty slim, so I didn’t pick anything up at the water station at the 5k marker. This saved my from my usual problem of choking on water, dropping the cup, or any of the usual repertoire of errors.
  4. The race consists of two laps of the town, with the only differences being the start and finish points. This means that the distance markers for the laps are staggered by something like 500m. In theory, this should be something that could be used to help with pacing.
  5. Be prepared for mud. Although most of the course is run on pavement or road, there are some sections clogged with mushy leaves, mud, puddles, etc., which can make for some hair-raising moments on corners.


Finish time: 40:20 (PB)
Position: 85 out of 542

1km: 3:33
2km: 3:47
3km: 4:00
4km: 4:01
5km: 4:10
6km: 4:09
7km: 4:10
8km: 4:11
9km: 4:12
10km: 3:55

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