Saturday 30 April 2016

Run>Dartford: Dartford Heath 5k 2016

The Run>Dartford website and series of races has been set up with inclusivity in mind. The website is full of helpful information on Dartford's running groups and clubs, and should be a really valuable resource for existing and new runners alike. Although the website is free from any kind of club bias, the whole resource has been put together by various people within Dartford Road Runners.

On the back of the website, there is also a summer race series which features five races in five different Dartford locations. They are all low-key affairs and the total number of runners has been limited to 100. Although it is possible to turn up and enter on the night for these races individually, I decided that I might as well enter the whole series. One last detail - runners have been encouraged to wear neutral colours rather than club vests for the series, which should help to maintain the inclusive feel to the events. So I'll be leaving my Dartford Harriers vest at home for these races.

dartford heath [photo:7t]

The first of the series was a Friday night race on Dartford Heath. This is an area of heathland to the South West of Dartford town centre and over the years has gone through a few changes. The first recorded size of the heath was in c.1797 when it was said to be 500 acres in size - over the years, housing and road developments have reduced the size of the heath down to its current 314 acres.

The heath hosted a ceremony in 1660 where King Charles II made an address. In April 1930 a young woman was murdered on the heath when a man quite randomly jumped from some bushes and stabbed her in the back - he was subsequently caught and sentenced to death. During WW2 anti-aircraft guns were installed on the heath. These days the heath is recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty and also a valuable habitat for wildlife.

i will be runner 53 for the entire series [photo:7t]

So back to the race. The course was 5 kilometres and was just under two laps around the heath. It's difficult to describe the course in full but it was run mostly on dry dirt paths with the rest of the course covered on grass. The heath is essentially flat but there were a few short, sharp inclines to negotiate on the way round. Another fun, but challenging feature was a series of steps to run down - it was harder than it sounds!

Something that is special with this series is that all of the results are being published, not in order of finishing time, but in order of age-graded finish time percentages. All prizes at the end of the series will also be allocated by age grade. It's a great idea and it certainly makes things a little more interesting. There are no individual race medals on offer, however, anybody that completes a minimum of 4 races will receive a bespoke Run>Dartford medal.

meeting place and finish area [photo:7t]

So, my race. Well. I made a couple of errors. Firstly I ate a banana 10 minutes before the race started and this did not sit well in my belly during the race - I felt tight all around my stomach and really suffered. Secondly, I went out way too hard, which on top of being silly probably made the issue with the banana worse than it would have been otherwise.

I was in fourth place at the end of the first lap, but I had a miserable second lap and was overtaken by at least 10 runners which was not a nice feeling - it's also one that I'm not used to as I don't often make the mistake of going out too hard. After looking at my splits I was disappointed with my 4th kilometre that was massively slower than the others, but after checking some other runners data, they had a similar pattern so I actually don't feel as bad about that as I did.

in action [photo: keith harvey]

On the plus side I did record my best 5k time (20.35) since about this time last year, so that was quite nice. That gave me a 65.83% age grading and I am currently sitting in 14th place in the overall age-grading based points table for the series.

Time: 20.35
Position (based on age grade): 14th
Full results: Dartford Heath 5k 2016
Current points in the table: 65.83 (currently in 14th position)

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