You may remember that my last attempt at this race didn’t go very well. After a wrong turn at 2km, I found myself horribly off course with no sensible way of getting back on course, got the hump, moaned at the person in charge and went home. My moaning earned me the compensation of a free place in the November edition.
I decided to use the race as a substitute for a Long Slow Run as I have no other opportunity to do one this week. I have been doing my Long Slow Runs really slowly lately because apparently that’s what you are meant to do but as I didn’t want to come last I decided to dial this one up a notch and do it at a medium-slow sort of pace. In the end this actually felt a lot more comfortable than running ultra-slow did, I felt better afterwards, and on the whole I’m definitely losing enthusiasm for this “your long slow runs need to be slower than a slow snail going slowly” thing.
Mindful of my experience last time, I spent a long time studying the map and you will be pleased to know I memorised the route perfectly and didn’t miss a step. It’s a nice route, full of my friend, the Tarmac Hill, with two laps. It’s quite different from the route RunThrough use in Greenwich: their route is three simple laps which are all flat except for the bit where you run down the massive hill and up it again. The Race Organiser route has more twists, turns and undulations.
My first lap went quite well – I think I probably went a bit faster than I should have, especially over the first two kilometres, but it’s hard to judge pacing when you have massive hills to consider. In any case, I made up for it by doing the second lap far too slowly with a great big walk up the hill. I was pleased to see the point where I’d taken my wrong turn being vigorously marshalled.
Official photos, which I can’t afford to buy. Particularly like the one where I am being chased by the bicycle medic, may return for this on payday.
Confusion struck at the end of the first lap, which I think I finished in about 37:30. Faster runners were still lapping me, which didn’t make any sense: if I was on my second lap and kilometre six, anyone lapping me would be on their third lap and kilometre eleven, and therefore ought to be finished. At first I thought it might be just be a couple of speedy show offs doing 15km instead of 10, or some people doing a cool down, but people don’t tend to do a sprint cool down and there were far too many of them for the show off theory. At my 6km point they were siphoned off to the finish while I continued scratching my head for the remaining 4km. Sometimes race routes don’t seem to make sense while you are running them, but end up being the right distance and you just have to have faith that the organisers know what you were doing. But then I was even more confused when I reached the beginning of the lap for the third time, seeing that I was nearly at 10k but presuming I would have to do the extra loop because everyone else had. But no, I was directed towards the finish line. I’d been saving my energy for the last loop so I was a bit annoyed that my last km was slower than it needed to be and rushed into a very short sprint finish. My finish time was 1:20:44.
It wasn’t until I got home and examined Strava Flybys that I worked out what had happened. It seemed like a sizeable pack of runners had taken a wrong turn after about a kilometre, similar to the error I’d made last time but a little earlier. I can’t even remember if there was a marshal or arrow at this point – since I’d committed the map to memory I didn’t need it and went the correct way. Then, just before the finish, instead of directing the faster runners left to finish, they’d been directed right to the second lap with the slower runners and then turned off to the finish after a kilometre. This might have been done deliberately to compensate for the earlier short cut or might just have been another marshalling error. The trouble was that a) the extra loop at the end was longer than the missed loop at the bottom b) some people who hadn’t missed the bottom loop ended up doing the extra top one, and some people who missed the bottom one didn’t have to do the top one. So there was a mix of people running 10.5, 11 and 9.5km. I was one of the few who actually ran a proper 10k.
On the whole, it’s a shame this event suffered from poor marshalling because it was a really nice route, the organisers seem friendly and their hearts are in the right place but I don’t want to be going to races and worrying about wrong turns. I think this is enough for me to conclude that I am just going to stick to RunThrough events from now on!