Monday 14 November 2016

Kent Fitness League 2016/17: Swanley Park

Round two of the 2016/17 Kent Fitness League cross country season took place on Sunday 13 November 2016. It was my first time running at this particular race and doing so meant that I have now run at all of the current venues [more info on venues here], albeit over three different seasons.

I had spent the week leading up to the race avoiding training as my chest had been a little congested and I was worried that I could be getting a chest infection. However, on the morning of the race, things felt fairly clear so I felt that it would be fine to go with a full race effort.

swanley park

I had also been a little concerned at a strange sensation I could feel around my right knee which started after the previous day's Dartford parkrun. On the morning of the race, the sensation was there but wasn't too noticeable when running.

Although the weather had been fairly dry during the weeks leading up to the race, the day beforehand had seen quite a prolonged period of heavy rain. With this in mind, I had arrived at the venue with a selection of four different pairs of shoe options; my old trail shoes, new trail shoes, light trail shoes, and my spikes.

course map and start [photos: 7t / valentino]

There are two car parks - the largest of the two is accessed from New Barn Road and the smaller one is found just off the side streets near the town centre. Once I had spent some time wandering around, I registered my attendance with my team manager and popped into the gents, which are next to the cafe, and then went off to get changed. Even though the ground was still fairly firm, there was a layer of water on the grass which was a little slippery. With this in mind I picked my cross country spikes.

Being remembrance Sunday, the 11.05am race start time was preceded by a minute's silence. This was followed by a second period of silence for the two members of Aldershot, Farnham and District AC who were tragically killed in an accident during a training run a few days earlier.

around the course [photos: 7t / becca]

I got myself into a better starting position than I had at the first race of the season and made a fairly good start with no hold-ups or congestion to worry about. The route weaves around quite a bit, crosses a few paths and the railway track as it progresses through the park.

At the 2016 race, the route was adjusted slightly from the previous year and consisted of one shorter lap of the main body of the park, followed by two longer laps which took in the far west side of the park. The west end of the park features a more natural-type of terrain and a short section through some woods.

around the course [photos: becca]

Very soon after starting, I realised that going with the spikes was probably not the best decision and that trail shoes would have been the better option. My race was incident-free and I was pretty happy with my relatively even paced splits.

Despite being passed by a few people on the way round, I did end on a high when I made back a couple of places during the last kilometre. I finished the race in 103rd position out of 469 finishers, which was again a little disappointing, but it's all I have in me at the moment so it's a fair reflection of my current fitness level.

the final few metres (it felt like a strong finish to me) [photos: valentino / 7t]

I recorded the course using the Strava app on my phone (I still haven't got a computer that is compatible with my Garmin) and you can see my GPS data, including the route and the hill profile in detail, here; KFL Swanley Park 2016.

The full results were available online the day after and my official finishing time was 37.23. I was the 92nd male over the line, which is an improvement on the first race of the season (I'll take what I can here). However, due to the lower amount of runners overall, my score/rating was a little lower at 71.11.

hoooops [photos: 7t]

The morning after the race, my calves were in absolute agony and I'm putting this down to wearing my spikes on ground that was too firm for them. So I'm going to have to keep that in mind for future races and I think my policy is going to be that I wear trail shoes unless the conditions are so bad that they I'd be sliding all over the place without spikes.

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