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Blenheim 7k: Race report

May 9, 2010

The start of the Blenheim 7k, about half an hour before the race

Pretty darned chilly, and with a bit of a wind

I was woken up by the sound of rain pummeling my windows in more or less exactly the same way the weather forecast the previous evening had promised wouldn’t happen. Fortunately, the rain stopped in good time for the race, but it left a cold and fresh edge to the air, which was accentuated by occasional gusts of wind. If anything, it felt considerably closer to February than May.

The Blenheim 7k was, as it happens, the first race I ran when I got back into running last year. It was my warm-up for the Oxford Town & Gown, which takes place the following weekend, and was a chance to find out just how fit – or unfit – I was. In the event, I came a respectable 67th (out of a field of 455) with a time of 32:04.

My morning preparations had been slightly derailed by the fact that having stuck my Garmin on to charge overnight, it had decided to run completely flat. No idea what had happened there, but I realised it had been quite some time since I’d run with a rather low-fi stopwatch. Not quite running blind of my pace, more running with one eye shut.

The course itself is largely run over good solid surfaces, but with a lakeside section over tracks. While this should make for good running, the fact that the course undulates a little more than is comfortable (around the 3k mark is a particularly relentless hill). However, the scenery – with a brief encounter with the palace, wooded sections and vistas across the lakes nested in amongst the hills – provides something to focus on.

Although technically a fun run, the field of runners was remarkably diverse. There were some very serious-looking club runners, at least one GB cross country runner, as well as those running for the first time. Literally, all ages were welcome, with prizes being awarded for runners in categories from under 15 through to over 60. The result was a great atmosphere, and hopefully some new converts to the sport.

The finish line of the 2010 Blenheim 7k

A good turnout for the race meant that the finishing area got very busy at times. Thank goodness for chip timing!

When I tell people about my weekend racing, they tend to think it’s a bit of a masochistic pastime. They’re probably not far wrong. But events like this remind you that running is so much more – it’s a socially responsible community sport, open to all, and supporting local causes. The race raised money for a local primary school, and was very well organised and supported. On top of this, the race probably has more sponsors than any other local event I know of!

Lessons learned

  1. Practice pacing. Again. I went off too fast (seriously, just look at the first km split) and wound up with lactic building up in my arms after just a couple of kilometres. While you need to keep the hills in mind – the final kilometre included a fairly punshing climb with a strong headwind – that final split isn’t good.
  2. Prepare for hills. Hills have been out of my training schedule for so long, it’s taken me a while to get used to running another other than on the flat. Reducing stride length and increasing footfall, leaning forward, all help, but ultimately being used to climbing will help more.
  3. Race-day psychology. I have a tendency not to push myself to the front of the crowd in the starting pen. By all rights, I could have done today. However, I find it gives me a mental boost to have a few easy overtakes – even if this means starting with a disadvantage – than to have few overtakes and have someone potentially overtake me. I probably ought to give starting higher up a shot to find out what it’s like.
  4. Pick the apex. Perhaps it was all the marathon training, but I felt that I stuck to the optimum line for the corners and kinks of the course quite well. I’m sure it makes little difference over such a short distance, but you never know.

Details

Finish time: gun time – 27:32; chip time – 27:30

Position: 11 out of 560

Results here.

1km: 3:23The 7k distance marker at the end of the race

2km: 3:43

3km: 4:12

4km: 4:22

5km: 3:52

6km: 3:53

7km: 4:00

In conclusion, I’m happy with how the race went today. I had gone in with a target of 38:00, and in the event knocked more than 4 minutes off my time from the previous year and came very close to being in the top 10. There’s a very strong chance I’ll be back again next year…

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Sarah Airey permalink
    May 10, 2010 5:42 pm

    So glad you enjoyed the run – and congrats on your good result. See you at Blenheim again next year?

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