Today Mandy and I ran a 10k together. It was a charity event held in Inverleith park in Edinburgh, only a short car journey for us. I had originally planned to race the 10k but then changed my mind midweek. I've done a lot of races recently and I thought it would be nice to run round the course with Mandy. She has been getting a bit stressed about the distance recently so to take the pressure off, we would just run the distance together. No eye on the pace or time, just a non-stop run.
We arrived in plenty time, picked up our timing chips and race numbers and then headed back to the car to keep warm.
The race for some reason was delayed by 15 mins which was a bit annoying but we just waited until we were told to get on to the start line. Now, usually this is the point where I give Mandy a kiss, wish her luck and I literally head to the start line, with my toe either on it or not far from it. Today I couldn't even see the start line. They gave a countdown and we waited. We shuffled a bit, then walked a bit, then jogged a bit and then finally we crossed the start line.
We got in to a bit of clear space and settled in to a nice pace. We took some selfies mid-run and tried to enjoy the undulating course as much as possible. I've never ran this race before but Mandy did last year and she did tell me it was a bit of a tough course. If you walked it you would think it wasn't too bad but trust me, there are some sneaky climbs in there.
The course is made up of 2 different loops. The first was pretty uneventful. I tried to get smiles out of the event staff but nothing, I've seen more reaction from a scarecrow in a field than I have from today's marshals. They obviously were just being paid to stand there and they took that role very seriously.
At the end of the first loop I spotted the front runner coming down the road and I checked my watch just to see what the first place time would have been if I had decided to race. 32 minutes!! Blimey, that is fast but wait, why doesn't he look like he is running 32 minute pace?
That was when I mentioned to Mandy that I had a horrible feeling that they had gone the wrong way. If he has ran a 32 minute 10k then fantastic but I had my doubts.
We continued on our way around the second loop and when we finished I looked at my watch and we had ran 10k.
It wasn't until we got home and looked on Strava and noticed a number of people naming their runs "Not a 10k, 10k" or "10k missing a bit" and other names which made me look a bit further. My suspicions were correct. They had missed a turn, maybe because the marshal at that point was taking their role so seriously that they stood completely still and didn't direct the first runner down the correct path or maybe it was some other reason but lets just say social media was going crazy earlier today with very unhappy people who had not ran 10k after all.
How hard is it for organisers to ensure they have everything covered when it comes to directing runners around the correct course? This was a UK athletics permitted event and they got the fundamental basics wrong!
I feel sorry for the front runners but I feel even more sorry for the 2 guys who had been sent around the second loop for a second time!! They came past Mandy and I racing flat out and then they got up to the marshal at a crossing point ahead of us asking why are they going around again. All the marshal could say was "Erm, sorry about that lads. Just head up this path and continue to the finishing straight as you had gone the right way". What a farce!
Let's just say Mandy and I won't be running this event again and although we did run the full distance without any issues we feel that messing up the course two years in a row (last year 5k and 10k runners were directed the wrong way) just isn't acceptable.
There was a funny part to our run though. As all the runners were crossing the finish line they were getting the usual from the commentator - "Well done Amy, great run!", "Well done Tom and Bill, great running guys", then as Mandy and I crossed the line we got, "Well done Amanda and, erm, great running Amanda!", oh sorry Mr Commentator, not sure how to pronounce my name? Well, to help any other race announcers who might be reading this, it's simple really, it's Owen, just the Welsh spelling!
On a separate note, we have launched a new competition today. Your chance to win a copy of Like the Wind magazine. Just head over to www.facebook.com/runningbesideme like our page and tell us why you run. It's as simple as that. Good luck!