Monthly Archives: October 2014

Givaudan Ashford 10k – Sunday 12th October 2014

I’ve never done this event before and entered it as it was part of the Dartford Road Runners Grand Prix.  The HQ was at the Julie Rose stadium where the race starts and finishes on the running track.  The stadium was built in 1997 in memory of Julie Rose a local middle distance runner who died in an aircrash in 1985.  The Stadium is home to Ashford Athletics Club who moved to their new facilities in March 1997.  The stadium offers 400m all weather running track, long jump, high jump, pole vault, hurdles, hammer, discus and shot put, indoor training area, 60m sprint track, long jump and an indoor netted throws cage.

My wife came along to support me and we set off early and arrived in plenty of time. We got easily parked in the Givaudan car park opposite, I collected my race pack and then we sat down in the stands whilst waiting for the start time.

Track-side before the Start.  (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

Track-side before the Start. (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

The start was soon fast approaching and about 20 mins before the start I started warming up.  Whilst warming up an announcement was made that the start time will be delayed by 10 mins due to the large number of people trying to register or collect their race packs.  Shortly after 860+ runners were all called onto the track where we started to line up on the far side.  Before we started we all participated in a minute silence in remembrance of Derek Seamon, who was the president of Ashford AC and a former organiser of the race.

At the start, I lined up with fellow team mates Lisa Campbell, Clair May and Cassandra Murray. Normally I find at races that I go off too quick and then struggle towards the later part and then the ladies always pass me.  My plan was to start with them and try and keep up with them for as long as possible.  Once we started we did approximately 100 metres on the track, then we out went through the car park onto the main road heading towards Kennington.  The first mile of the route was pretty flat and we were going at a reasonable pace of 8:33.

Course Map

Course Map

Course profile

Course profile

I remember getting to the 2nd mile marker and my garmin flashed up with our pace of 8:26.  The pace was slightly quicker than planned, as I was hoping for sub 54 mins which is about 8:41 per mile.  I thought that I’d try and continue keep with the girls for as long as possible and see what happens.  Just after mile two Lisa stopped to take her inhaler and then myself and claire passed her. So that left Clair as my only pacer and have to say she did a great job. Our pace for the 3rd and 4th mile was 8:32 and 8:30 respectively. At this point I started to think that a PB was possible.

My Mile Splits

My Mile Splits

I grabbed a water at the 2nd drinks station (approx 7k) and slowed down to take a few gulps, while Clair carried on and started to pull away from me. Now I thought I’d try and keep her in my sights. The 5th mile was my slowest split with a pace of 8:53, however my overall time was over 1 min quicker than my 5 mile PB, so it drove me on to keep up the pace.

Shuffling through the Stadium Car Park (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

Shuffling through the Stadium Car Park (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

We were soon back onto Willesborough Road leading towards the Julie Rose Stadium, so I knew we were nearly home. Once I got to the entrance of the stadium Clair was out of sight, we passed through the car park where my Wife Jo was waiting to cheer me on.   Just before returning onto the track we had reached 6 miles and my mile split time was 8:36. We now only had 300 metres of track left to go. Half-way round the track the organisers announced that time was at 53:06, so I tried to muster up some sort of sprint to line.

Nearly There!!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

Nearly There!!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

I actually did it, a new PB, with an official time of 53:23!!!! My previous 10k PB was back in May 2012 at Larkfield with a time of 54:17.   I really enjoyed the race and I liked the course, it wasn’t too challenging.  It was good that It started and finished on the track where spectators can watch. It was nice to see so many friendly faces from other Kent running clubs.  There was a good turnout from my club DRR and it was great to see that many of them also had a good race too.

I actually did it, New PB!!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

I actually did it, New PB!!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

Nice medal for my efforts!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

Nice medal for my efforts!! (Photo courtesy of Jo Sowden)

8 Weeks of Parkrun

You’ve heard of the 12 days of Christmas, this is my brief story of the 8 different parkrun events that I’ve had the pleasure to visit in the last 8 weeks.

Week One – 23/08/2014 – Tonbridge Parkrun #43

I ran at the inaugural event on 9th November 2013 and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I promised that I would go back again to improve on my time.  So on this parkrun day I decided it was about time to go back.  I picked a great day to go back as a the parkrun was supported by the local running club, Tonbridge AC, who provided all of the volunteers and pacers.  To show their appreciation to Tonbridge AC, the regular runners and volunteers decided to dress up in a black and white theme.

Tonbridge AC runners with Pacing times on their backs.

Tonbridge AC runners with Pacing times on their backs.

I really enjoyed the course and had a good run, I tried to keep up with the 27 min pacer but eventually finished in 27:18.  Despite not managing to get a sub 27 mins I managed to improve on my previous time by 1:29, which was very pleasing.

Week Two – 30/08/2014 – Maidstone Parkrun #73

I’ve only ever ran this course once previously on New Years Day and again I though it was about time to have another crack of the course.  The route is an out and back which starts at the Kent Life Museum and the follows the River Medway to the turnaround point in Whatman Park.

River Medway

River Medway

The course is quite narrow in places and in the early part of run there were a few bottle necks, so I would suggest any faster runners to start at the front.  I was aiming to improve on my time and bring it down similar to my times at other parkrun events, around 27:15. I finished slightly slower than I hoped, however I still managed to achieve a course PB with a time of 27:25.

Week Three – 06/09/2014 – Bognor Parkrun #15

I was spending a weekend in Pagham, West Sussex with my family and was pleased to find that there was a parkrun only 5 miles from where I was staying, which was Bognor Regis Parkrun at Hotham Park.  This is a very unique and special Parkrun, there was a real community feel at this event and the course was very quirky.

Me in my 'Run for fun' T-shirt not looking like I'm having fun.

Me in my ‘Run for fun’ T-shirt not looking like I’m having fun.

The course is fairly flat and I went off way to quick at the start and suffered for it later on in the run, however I managed to get a sub 27 min, which I’ve only ever managed at one other parkrun course, being Bexley Parkrun at Danson Park.

Week Four – 13/09/2014 – Dartford Parkrun #8

Dartford Parkrun is one of my local Parkrun events and I planned to go here because my running club, Dartford Road Runners, decided to have a pre-park run warm-up session.  However, I got up too late and missed the session, but I did manage to get to the park in time for the parkrun.

The course is two laps of Dartford Central Park, it is mostly on tarmac paths and fairly flat, with the exception of a small grass section.  The 2nd lap is slightly longer than the 1st as it incorporates ‘Jaggers leg’.  Jaggers leg is where the route goes round the Mick Jagger statue that is the corner of the park.

Start of Inaugural Dartford Parkrun. (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

Start of Inaugural Dartford Parkrun. (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

I remembered from the previous week that I started too quick, so i decided to start further at the back and start off slower and then work my way through the field slowly picking up my pace.    That was the plan anyway, but my mile splits were 8:35, 9:01 & 8:59.  Despite my run not going to plan is still managed to get a course PB and just sneaked under 27 mins, with my official time of 26:59.

Week Five – 20/09/2014 – Orpington Parkrun #109

I had decided to visit Orpington on this day as they were celebrating their two years anniversary.  To mark the occasion the theme for the morning was ‘fancy hats’ however I couldn’t find my fancy hat so I just wore my running cap instead.

I arrived at Goddington park early to get parked as I thought it may be busy.  Whilst doing a warm-up, it was great to see all the runners arrive in their fabulous hats, which ranged from Robin Hood to full Darth Vador face masks.

Start of Orpington Parkrun 2nd Anniversary (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

Start of Orpington Parkrun 2nd Anniversary (Photo Courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

At the briefing before the start of the run we were informed that was a surprise that we will be running the course in reverse.  The route comprises of 2 larger laps and 1 small lap of Goddington Park, it mostly on grass with a small section on a concrete paths.  I would recommend to wear trail trainers when the course is wet, because it can get quite muddy and slipper, however due to having the warmest September on record the course was dry and was fine with normal road shoes.

I always find this course tough and found it harder in reverse, however I was pretty pleased with my time of 27:46, it wasn’t a PB but it was my fastest time at Orpington this year.

Week Six – 27/09/204 – Great Lines Parkrun #53 

Myself and Ian Pullen planned in advance to return to Great Lines for their 1st Anniversary, this was my 2nd run at Great Lines with my 1st being their inaugural event.  The Run Director, Tony Giles and his hardcore team decided that to celebrate the event they encouraged everyone to wear fancy dress.

Ian had asked if I was going to wear fancy dress, I said to him that I only had a batman costume, then lo and behold Ian tells me that he has got a robin outfit, so that was that!!!

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I picked Ian up in my bat mobile (aka black peugeot 206) and we made our way to Gillingham.  We arrived early and then made our final touches to our costumes before making our way to the park.  It was great to see so many people who also made the effort to dress up too.  Even Tom Collins dressed up, however his costume was an elite athlete and to mark the occasion he broke the course record with an amazing time of 15:55.  As soon we started we could see Tom pulling away from the rest of the field with every stride and made it look so easy.

Ian (aka Robin) decided to run with me at my pace.  I found it quite difficult to run in the costume, it was very hot and I found it hard to breathe, in fact I remember crossing the line and then throwing up in the bushes. I don’t know how people run a marathon in fancy dress, we found a new level of respect for those guys.  We finished with a time of 27:32, which was only 20 seconds slower than my previous time, which I was pretty happy with.

Afterwards we had grabbed a cup of tea from the local cafe and sampled some of the cakes that were baked by the runners and volunteers. What a great way to start the weekend.

Week 7 – 04/10/2014 – Bushy Park Parkrun #539 

Today was the 10 year anniversary of Parkrun and myself and Ian had planned to go where it all started.  I picked Ian in the Bat Mobile about 6.30am to ensure we got to bushy park in plenty of time and get parked.  We knew that a record number of runners were expected to attend, Ian had done Bushy Park about 4 weeks previously and on that day there were 900+ runners, so we knew there would be in excess of 1,000 runners.

When we arrived at the park about 7.30am it was a beautiful autumn morning and the mist was clearing and it was great to see the deer in the park too.  The car park was fairly empty, however it soon filled up pretty quick and then the car park was gridlocked.

As the start time got closer we had a little warm-up and then could see the crowds of people making their way to the start.  It was incredible to see the amount of runners there, before the race started their were a few presentations and golden bar codes were given to the original 13 runners who ran the very 1st Parkrun at Bushy Park 10 years previous.

The course is one lap of Bushy park and is fairly flat, as I had never ran this event before I thought I would take it easy.  However at the start I think I got caught up with the moment and flew off with the other 1,704 runners.  I started to pay for it later and struggled on the last mile, but I still managed a time which is quicker than most of my other Parkrun PB’s. My official results was finishing position of 913 with a time of 27:02.  Ian had a great run and achieved his all time 5k PB with a great time of 21:24.

1,705 runners at the start of the 10 year anniversary (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr page)

1,705 runners at the start of the 10 year anniversary (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr page)

Not only was it impressive seeing 1,705 runners at the start, it was even more impressive how the volunteers managed the finishing funnel, it was like military precision.   There was a great atmosphere and it was so good to be part of the celebrations and the park is stunning, I will definitely go back in the future.

Week 8 – Shorne Woods Parkrun #82

Shorne Woods is my home parkrun, so after all the touring in the last 7 weeks I decided it was about time I went back home.  I really like shorne woods and it’s only about 5 miles from home so I try to cycle there when I can, which is also a great warm-up.

When I woke up it was wet outside, but the forecast predicted that the rain would stop in time for the parkrun and would hold off for a few hours, so I decided to cycle there as planned.  The course is mainly on gravel paths around shorne woods country park, with a few twists and turns, mud and puddles.

Despite the rain, 79 hardcore runners lined up at the start of which 9 of them were parkrun virgins, which is great to see more and more people joining Parkrun.  I had a 10k race booked up for the Sunday so I wanted to take it fairly easy and decided to start of slower I managed to keep to even pace of approx 9 mins per mile and finished in a time of 27:43, which is my fastest time this year at Shorne Woods.

Taking in part in the wet t-shirt competition (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

Taking in part in the wet t-shirt competition (Photo courtesy of Parkrun Flickr Page)

The end of my touring streak

I am unable to make it 9 out of 9 as I will be away this coming saturday with my Wife and Family.  Now my little touring streak has come to an end it will be nice to continue to do some more local parkruns and catch up with some more familiar faces.