Saturday 21 February 2015

Dartford parkrun 31 - while the cats were away

I was stood in Dartford's Central Park at 7.30am staring into the metal storage container which houses the parkrun kit throughout the week. It was raining lightly and I proceeded to remove the bits and pieces required for setting up the course. Five minutes later I was popping the finish funnel stanchions into the ground when the light rain turned into sleet.

I was soon joined by Adam who was taking on the run director role for the second consecutive week. He had all of the electronic gizmos in his backpack and the freshly washed hi-vis vests in their yellow drawstring bag. Together we headed off around the course to get the course marked out. There was no need to inspect the grass and trail section because the decision had already been made to use the B course.

the b course

Not only were we using the B course, but it was pacers day AND we had given Richey (ED) and Tessa (results maestro) the day off - they headed over to the brand new Hockley Woods parkrun which, if I may use a quote, is "nuts. Proper cross-country job, and some pretty choppy hills. Deffo not a pb course, but very enjoyable. And muddy." So definitely one to visit in the near future!

Back to Dp31 and the course was set up, the volunteers and runners had started to arrive and Adam was in full flow sorting everything out. I turned my attention to my next job of the day which was pacing. I had selected the 22 minute pacer role because, well, I fancied it more than any other. I had a practice at it at event 30 and did pretty well, but that was on the A course which I am without doubt much more familiar with.

the team of pacers [photo: gary bignell]

We had five pacers in total and in order to add an extra layer of interest I offered to buy the others a drink in the clubhouse if they managed to get within 1% of their target time - for me that worked out at a 13 second window either side of my 22 minute target time. It's not an easy thing to do but they were all game for the challenge.

Adam introduced the pacers and gave the rest of the briefing at the normal spot and we then made our across to the B course start point. We headed off. Getting the 22 minute pacing fairly accurate was my main concern and I was supposed to hit the 1 kilometre point at 4.24 - as I passed it my watch said 4.12, which would have been spot on if I had been pacing 21 minutes.

and they're off.. [photo: gary bignell]

I eased off the gas and by the time I reached 2 kilometres the clock said 8.47 which was just 1 second in front of my target for this point. However, I was naturally moving a little faster than intended around the course and kept hitting the splits ahead of schedule.

One surprise was just how slippery the tiny piece of mud at Mick Jagger's corner was and I imagine the fact that I had gone for road shoes didn't help either. Still they were the right shoe for this course which is predominantly tarmac paths.

coming through the finish area on one of the laps [photo: gary bignell]

I reached the 4 kilometre point a shocking 20 seconds ahead of schedule and never really managed to stage much of a recovery, so when I reached the finish line 17 seconds ahead of schedule I wasn't surprised but I was disappointed that I had not managed to come in within my 13 second (1%) tolerance window.

My next job of the day was to do some barcode scanning, so I grabbed my scanner and joined scanning debutant Gary. The light and temperatures were playing havoc with the devices and we both had issues with getting the barcodes to scan. Thankfully, pretty much all of the barcode went through and as my attention was about to turn to the retrieval of the signs, Terry announced that he was off to bring back whatever was still out there.

results uploaded and sitting in the queue [photo: 7t]

So with that in good hands I was able to mill around, chat and generally soak up the post-run atmosphere. At that point, I only had confirmation that one of the pacers had managed to finish within 1% of their target time so once we got inside the clubhouse I bought Paul the 25 minute pacer his tea and we all got settled in our favourite corner while Adam and Lynne got onto the results processing. I later found out that Dawn the 30 minute pacer had also done very well, so she'll get her free drink next weekend!

With that all done our post-run analysis was that everything had gone as smoothly as it possibly could have and we strolled away knowing that we had played a small part in making that week's event possible. We will however be delighted to see Richey and Tessa back next week!
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