A 530am start (poorly 7 year old), an early Chinese F1 GP (another win for Lewis) and off I went to join 82 other Bedford Harriers at race HQ for the annual Sandy 10 (miles, not kilometres unfortunately).
I first ran this race last year in 2014, and I really enjoyed it so thought I’d do a return trip to see if I could better my time. After a catch up with the other club runners we all trundled off for the 10 minute walk to the start. Functional, rather than picturesque, the race gets going from a delightful little cul-de-sac within an industrial business park. However, most of the route is along country B-roads so it wasn’t the shape of things to come (unlike some popular, fast, yet dull courses a few miles up the A1…)
Mile one was a challenge right off the bat as we were running into a wind but it was nowhere near as bad as the 20 miler I did a fortnight ago round Oakley so I settled into a nice rhythm. Between miles one and two is the main incline, a long drag rather than a steep slope, but it was tricky to keep the pace up as that wind was never far away. However, after the second mile marker things flatten out and stay that way until you return back down the slope at the end. Of most note for the next mile or so were the “tall impresser” and the “lost lunches”. The former was a seven foot runner that suddenly pelted past the group I was running with, as his posse cheered him on from the side of the road, only to slow to a shuffle as soon as he was round a corner! The latter were a number of rolls and sandwiches in small plastic bags strewn across the road. Careless roadside picnickers maybe?
This section was sheltered from the wind so the pace was high, but the downside was that in the bright sun I was starting to really feel the heat. Thankfully just after mile three there was a water station and after a quick swig we turned a corner through a little village called Everton. Upside – it got cool, downside – it was because we had a headwind.
Anyway, the next couple of miles were relatively uneventful, except for lots of fab marshals in their traditional Biggleswade AC silly hats! Coming through Gamlingay I found myself doing quite some pace and thought I was on for a pretty good time, sub 1:20hrs. But I stupidly didn’t realise this was because of the tail wind, and not my superhuman talents! Sadly I came right back to earth as we turned left and hit the wind again.
Miles five to seven were low points. Exposed to the wind, low on energy (thankfully I had a spare gel secreted about my person) and starting to be overtaken (hit the motivation somewhat), but I know these moments tend to come and go so I hung on and things got better as we came into the last couple of miles – mainly due to the shelter of the trees and the downhill sections.
I was having a little internal Harriers battle at this point with Amber, but she had better legs than me and I couldn’t keep her behind me. Although I had given up on my sub-1:20 finish a mile or so back I realised as we ran down the final hill that actually there was a chance it was back on. Spurring me on, I tried to run the last mile in 7 mins 30 secs. Ordinarily I should be able to do this fine but I think on the day my legs just weren’t feeling it and sadly I stumbled over the line 23 seconds over the 1:20.
I was a bit gutted at this as I wanted to beat my time from last year (1:20:07), but the windy conditions on the day were just a bit too much. However, a cracking technical t-shirt, a friendly “well done” and a (random) pot of jelly later and I felt less worried about my time. The sheer number of Harriers there made for a great post-race catch up as we all swapped war stores over cups of tea and bacon sarnies (well cheese for me as a veggie). Plus we won a fair number of awards for our fast runners and the overall award for most entries from one club (double the next club).
There was even the unexpected gift of bananas! (There were a load left over after the runners finished). I like a bit of cake after a run, so I can’t wait to tuck into the banana loaf I made when I got home!
A very well organised event, great morning out with running buddies and the opportunity for cake. Good day.