Race 1: Dartford Heath 5k
Race 2: Central Park 4 Mile
Race 3: Darenth Country Park 2 Mile Relay
Race 4: Joydens Wood 5k
I came into this race in 5th place overall on the consolidated points table. This has mostly been possible through consistency rather than any exceptional age-grading scores. The runners in the top five positions at the end of the series were to be awarded trophies, so I had plenty of motivation to put in as good a performance as possible.
|eager to get going...
Those familiar with the local area should know the ASDA at Greenhithe. Next to the main vehicle entrance to the store car park is an entrance to the Thames River Path. The meeting point for the race was found about 100 metres or so along the path. Weather conditions were nice and cool but it was also fairly windy.
The route for this race was an out-and-back with a small loop at the far end. Underfoot was a mixture of stony trail paths, grass, tarmac, and gravelly paths. The path is fairly narrow, especially at the beginning so in order to avoid congestion, runners had been organised into three waves and were dispatched at 10 second intervals - times were then adjusted after the race to reflect each runner's actual finish time.
|path near the start/finish
I was put into wave A and sent off with the first bunch of runners. By the the time I reached the 1 kilometre point I had the feeling that I may have gone out a little too hard, and the 3.49 minutes that had elapsed on my Garmin confirmed this. Naturally my pace slowed after this point.
On the 'out' section of the race, the blinding setting sun made it tricky to see many details so I was extra careful as the route passed through some cycling restriction barriers during the section that passed underneath the 'Queen Elizabeth II Bridge' which is better known as Dartford Bridge.
|looking back towards the start area
The view out onto the Thames was nice and despite the chaos of the Friday evening traffic 137 metres above our heads, it was a peaceful place to run. The route continued along the path past the imposing 215 metre high chimney (fourth tallest in the UK) of the now decommissioned Littlebrook D Power Station.
The last of the industrial areas to pass was the Longreach Sewage Treatment Works, after this the race entered the Dartford Marshes area. It's a small area of marshland that once streched all the way along the Thames Estuary and is comprised of arable fields, grazing areas, scrubland and drainage ditches.
The Dartford Creek Tidal Flood Barrier was soon in sight and this marked the end of the 'out' section. A small loop was run at this point which turned the runners around and sent them back from whence they came; back along the marshes, past the sewage treatment works and the power station. Under the bridge and then to the finish right at the end of the path.
My course GPS data can be viewed on Strava via the following link: Thames River Path 10k
The Run>Dartford series 2016 participation medal was awarded to all runners who completed a minimum of four out of the five races in the series. It's a great looking medal which features the Dartford Warbler. As usual, there were plenty of other runners milling around analysing their performances.
For me, I started too fast, slowed down gradually throughout the first half, then I had a stitch for about a mile from 5.5km until just after the 7km point. I managed to hold a steady pace throughout the stitch and then gradually speed up through the last three kilometres so it wasn't too bad. However my finish time was about a minute slower that I had expected to run.
|medal and trophy
After some quick calculations the race director was ready to announce the overall prize winners of the series. I had ended up in fourth position overall which I would never expected at the start of the series so as some might say, I was 'well chuffed'! I received a nice trophy which I've managed to find a lovely spot for at home.
The full results were put online on the Run>Dartford website soon after and I had finished in 5th position on the evening. But of course this series uses age grading to determine finish positions and points for the table, so I was 12th overall on the evening with an age grading of 65.81%. That translated into 65.81 points to add to my tally in the consolidated points table and I finished on 320.11 points in total. It's been a fantastic series and I'm looking forward to 2017 already!
Position by age grade: 12/45 (5th position by time)
Full results: Thames River Path 2016
Points in the consolidated points table: 320.11 (fourth position)