The 2011 Richard Burton 10K will go down in memory (well mine at least) as my first ever race as a runner in the men’s veteran 40 category and what a cracking day it turned out to be.
Despite trying to remain relaxed about the whole event, I found myself filled with excitement and nerves as soon as I got out of bed this morning. This was fuelled further by several very supportive tweets (thanks guys!), which I happily digested along with my pre-race breakfast…
Being someone whom hates rushing about and being late, we left with plenty of time to spare and reached a sun drenched Cwmafan – or perhaps Cwmavon as it is better known if you’re not a Welsh speaker – by around 10am.
Having picked up my race number and timing chip from the race HQ in the Cwmafan community centre, things were going well and to plan… until the toilets packed up and were made ‘out of bounds’.
Now as any runner will tell you, having a (PRP) – that’s pre-race-pee by the way, not performance-related-pay – is as essential as wearing trainers, unless your name is Zola Budd of course.
Thankfully the giant freight containers alongside Cwmavon RFC’s ground provided a suitable alternative location for numerous runners (including moi) to fertilize the grass/overgrowth.
Bladder emptied, I made my way to the start line along with the other 180 odd runners and began to think about how ‘hilly’ the course would actually be. I say that because I’d been told by experienced runners over the last couple of weeks that if a PB was my aim, then it would be a tall order given the nature of the course.
The starters horn blew at 11:15am and we were off and supported by a healthy crowd – including the team DDWT. The conditions were perfect, dry and sunny with a slight breeze. Having never run this course before, my main tactic was simply to try and run every 1KM at a consistent pace and in under 5 minutes.
After an initial steady and flat ‘ish 3.5K the aforementioned hills started to appear and just when you thought you’d conquered one, you turned the corner to face another. It’s was as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.
Two climbs in particular stick in my mind – at around the 5K and 7K mark – which when combined with the fantastic support of the local residents cheering and shouting constant encouragement, reminded me of the mountain stages in the Tour de France…although having never ridden it, perhaps it’s grossly unfair to make the comparison!
Here’s a breakdown of the course elevation in feet, courtesy of my Garmin – whom I wouldn’t be without!
I must say in all of the races I’ve done, the crowd today was the most supportive and vocal I’ve come across to date. So a big thanks to you all, you wouldn’t believe how much it helps us runners – especially when the going gets tough. Special thanks to Eleanor as well for the surprise support during the mountain stages 🙂
So after 6.27 miles (according to my garmin) of huffing and puffing I finally crossed the line in an official time of 50 minutes and 2 seconds. I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t disappointed with my time, especially as I wanted to break the 50 minute barrier in my first vet’s race. Two bloody seconds mind you grrrrrr and *big sigh*
In retrospect having taken the course into account, I should probably be pleased with my efforts and the dubious honour of being the 7th man home in the V40 category!
All in all it was a good day and I did enjoy the experience of running a 10K which wasn’t as flat as a pancake. Having said that, I wouldn’t advise anyone to run the Richard Burton 10K as your very first race – the hills might put you off running for life *wink*
It’s fitting however, that the last person I should mention in this post is Mr Allen Watts of the Sarn Helen running club, whom completed the race today at the tender age of 82.
Now that’s inspiration enough for anyone to give this or any other 10K race a go don’t you think?