Sunday 22 September 2013

Chislehurst Chase 10k 2013

I stumbled across this race a little late in the day to enter in advance so I dragged the ladies out of bed extra early and went along hoping that they would have spaces left and I'd be able to register on-the-day. As it happens, they did and I registered. The entry fee was £12, if I had registered in advance it would have been £10. On the same day they also have a 2km fun run which takes place after the main event, this one is £2 to enter.

Once I had decided which top to wear and pinned my number to it, I headed of for a little warm and a part recce of the course, which apart from the very beginning, is all off road. That done, back I went to the village Green, popped into one of the portaloos, then headed to the start line for a short briefing. A few minutes before race time, the race director sounded his klaxon to inform the police that it was now time for them to stop all traffic to let the runners complete the only on-road section of the course.

A second blast of the klaxon was unleashed to start the race. Once the first 200-300 metre on-road section was complete, we were directed off of the road and into the woods - All part of Scadbury Park. The first section was relatively flat and the conditions were actually pretty damn good. It was cool enough to not risk overheating but still warm enough to wear a singlet (by New Balance - a blog post will follow) without feeling chilly.

We also had great conditions underfoot. It had rained a few times in the week leading up to the race so the ground was soft without being soggy or waterlogged.

After the fairly flat opening section we then joined the loop. The loop is probably just over 4km in length and is run twice. This is where it really got interesting, we were taken through twisty wooded paths with tree roots just waiting to grab hold of a leg or two. We crossed little wooden bridges and were taken up and down a variation of gentle slopes and lung busting climbs.

In one part, the woods give way to a very steep open grass section, which was potholed in places - the marshals had been out earlier that morning and marked the potholes with chalk which was a brilliant idea and really helped me to negotiate my way through without twisting an ankle!

Back into the woods, through a kissing gate (which temporarily broke my rhythm) and there's a steep downhill section. This is followed by an odd uphill man-made bridge-type-thing. We eventually came back around to the start of the loop where I saw the ladies were waiting to cheer me as a went past.

Once the second loop had been completed we were fed through some fun bits of wood before joining the path adjacent to the main road, and as soon as we reached the end of the path the finish line appeared as if from nowhere!

The ladies had changed position so I saw them waiting at the end as I crossed the finish line - It was nice that they were able to see the action mid-race, the multi-lap course is handy in this respect as there are so many races where I disappear and the next time they see me is at the end.

As far as racing goes, I ran pretty hard but I wasn't red lining myself. I haven't run off-road that much over the last few months so wanted to stay within my limits and not risk hurting my calfs on those uneven uphill sections. Plus this is the first in a streak of Sunday 10k races I have coming up so it was good to see how the legs would hold up to the undulating/hilly trail course.

After the run I was given a banana (which wasn't ripe - I'm not grumbling, just making a note), a cup of water (definitely needed) and my finisher's medal. A few minutes later one of the other runners gave my daughter his medal so we wore them together for the rest of our morning out.

This run has received some poor reviews in the past but I didn't find anything to grumble about as far as the race was concerned. The marshals were all friendly and were all appropriately thanked on each occasion I passed them, the course was very well marked out. My GPS reported the run as exactly 10km (that doesn't happen very often).

The only negative I have to report is that they only publish the finishing times of the first 50 finishers (actually it was only 49 this year). But there's a limit of 300 runners, so everyone else, who has paid an equal entry fee, has to make do with either recording their own time or memorising what it said on the big timing clock at the finish line. Giving an official finish time to only the fastest 16.6% of runners seems a tad unfair to me.

As you can see from the finish line photo above, I crossed the finish line in 47.49, which I am happy with even though it's quite a way off my 10k personal best. I'm saving pb hunting for next weekend's 10k race, which is flat and on tarmac.

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