Last Sunday (20th February) I took part in my first “proper” 10k race, the Concept Sport event in Winchester. I’ve entered three road races so far in 2011, and this was the second following the Romsey 5 miles a few weeks ago. In the run up to the event I’d set myself the goal of finishing on or around the 50 minute mark, based on my training runs and the Romsey event.
The Winchester course is a single loop rather than laps that began at River Park Leisure Centre, and ended at Winchester City FC’s ground just around the corner. The main course heads clockwise north easterly out of Winchester ultimately looping round Kingsworthy and nearby Headbourne Worthy, before heading back in to the finish via Andover Road. This would be the hilliest 10km I had attempted to date, and I was looking forward to the challenge.
On arriving at River Park, it was clear that this event is popular, with runners arriving from all angles. I finally managed to track down my fellow runners Tim and May just ahead of the start. The weather was overcast but dry although the start on the mud and grass was somewhat slippery from the previous days rain. A bit like at Romsey we couldn’t easily hear the briefing and the actual start was a bit hazy but in the end we got away, beginning with a lap of a playing field. We made the mistake of starting a bit too far back in the field, and even by the end of that initial lap people were still sorting themselves out.
Coming off of the grass the course then headed uphill through the residential area of Abbotts Barton nearby and onto the B3047 (Worthy Road) up towards Kingsworthy. The initial hills up to the main road were a taste of what was to come, for although the initial leg into Kingsworthy was by and large downhill, the serious hills began as the course continued through and round towards Headbourne Worthy. In fact the course followed a continual incline between around 4.5 and 8km, all the way through Headbourne Worthy and onto the Andover Road. All the way around the route there were people by the sides of the road cheering us all on which was a great feeling, and there was additional traffic control in place to facilitate crossing would otherwise be pretty busy main roads.
I tried to keep focused on maintaining a constant rhythm – I wasn’t going to wear myself out by trying to outrun the hills, and hoped that I would make up the time on the declines that I hoped would come round the corner. By and large I tried to keep my pace between 4:30 and 4:50 minutes/km on the flat, and 5:00 to 5:15 on the inclines which I pretty much achieved.
After the long slog from Headbourne Worthy, there was a last sting in the tail of a steep incline over the railway as the course headed back in towards Abbotts Barton, and then into the final decline in towards the finish. I was starting to feel tired by this point and decided to maintain my rhythm and let the natural decline of the hill speed me up. As the route led into the football stadium, however, I felt sufficiently good that I decided to go for one last sprint to the finish, and despite the surface changing to a loose shingle, I still managed to move myself up a few places before the finish line.
According to my Garmin, I had completed the race in 47 minutes 40 seconds. The official results listed me as 47 minutes 47 seconds, both of which I was really happy with. My finishing position was 184th out of the 419 men.
I managed to also capture some action shots of Tim and May as they made their way in.
Then of course we had the customary group photo to commemorate another good running outing.
Roll on the Eastleigh 10k in March, this was great fun.