As you will see from the title of this blog, due to a marshalling issue, this year’s 10k race was in fact 8.25k! More about that later!
I had signed up for this race a while ago but managed to injure my neck/shoulder in the gym doing weights the Tuesday before the race and so it wasn’t until the morning of the race I actually decided that I was definitely running. Thankfully the pain and stiffness had eased since the Tuesday and, although not 100%, with the help of some deep freeze I felt that I would be able to run without much discomfort.
I had been looking forward to the race for a change. In 2011, I had been signed up for half marathon but had to drop down to the 10k due to illness. Although it would be a slightly different route, it is a good course (mainly downhill) and I thought it would be a good indicator of my progress since my treatment. My time to beat from 2011 was 64:52. I had managed sub 65 minutes at Grangemouth earlier this year but haven’t managed to keep up my long runs so wasn’t sure how I would get on.
Unlike when I ran it in 2011, the half marathon and 10k now start at the same point so it was nice being able to head to the start with Owain. However, since 2011 it is very apparent that the race has grown and it all felt a bit chaotic. Despite arriving early for the buses, there was a huge queue to get on one and the start area just seemed to be one big mass queue for the toilets.
Not before long, the half marathon set off, slightly later than 10am. I am not sure how many runners there were but because of the narrow forest tracks, it was well after 10.15 before all the runners got started. Then it was our turn. The last time I ran the race, it was only chipped at the end so I decided to position myself a bit further up the pack than I would normally – but did notice that it was chipped at the start too. I would of course noticed that had I did a warm up!!
I didn’t really pay attention to where I was running until we were out on the road and came across the first sign which said 5 miles to go. I had a look at my GPS and saw that we hadn’t run very far at all, certainly nowhere near a mile. I kept plodding along just taking in the sights along the road, when the next sign came into sight – 4 miles to go. At this point, I was beginning to wonder what was going on as my GPS was showing just over one mile. I knew that the half marathon and 10k routes merge on the roadside and was beginning to wonder whether there had been a change to the route and there would be a mile detour somewhere along the route for the 10k runners. Soon enough I saw the 3 miles to go sign and my mind started ticking over – is this three miles to go for the 10k or do I still have 4 miles. I didn’t want to push the pace to be suddenly confronted by a sign detouring the 10k runners around a little loop somewhere. At this stage, conversations started with the runners around me. A few runners ran the race last year and said that there was a loop in the forest last year which we hadn’t did this year – but again did this mean that we had missed that accidently or was it a change to the route?
By the time I got to the 2 miles to go sign, the marshals were offering words of encouragement saying we didn’t have long to go and so I picked up the pace telling myself that I will just need to deal with it if there is an extra mile along the way. When I have been racing recently, I have been running with just the distance showing on my watch so that I am not concerning myself about pace and so had calculated that the route would be about 5 miles if there was no detour. Final distance was in fact 5.12 miles – which actually quite frustrated me. It may seem silly but I wouldn’t have minded so much if it was 5 miles as then it would have been a standard distance that I could have compared my time against.
I was even more frustrated when I saw my finish time of 50:52, giving me an average pace of 9:56 min/mile. Excluding parkruns, this is my fastest paced race in 6 years! In fact, looking back at my previous races, this time was faster than any of my 5 mile races to date. Had I managed to have held that pace for an extra mile to complete the 10k distance, it would have given me a time of 01:01:43, which would have been my second fastest 10k ever! I appreciate the course is largely downhill but comparing it to my 2011 race, it would have meant a 2.5 minute PB. The best comparative race I have is probably the Amsterdam 8k, which I ran in October 2014 in 55:10. Aviemore was around 8.25k and I still managed to run it over 4 minutes faster. I know these are all great indicators that my training is going really well, and it does make me feel positive about my running but it would still have been nice to have achieved that over the full 10k distance. I was given my 10k medal and almost felt a cheat wearing it.
At the prize giving there was an announcement that the absence of a marshal near the start resulted in a shortcut and meant that runners ran down the full length of the road rather than turning down towards Loch Morlich. A formal statement has been issued on their website saying they recognise that runners have a genuine complaint and they will contact runners individually. I have not yet heard anything from them. It is a difficult one and there was quite a lot of debate on their facebook page about what should be done. It is clearly a charity fundraiser and I don’t want to see the money not going to charity however it is the 10th year they have organised the 10k, 11th for the half marathon I think, so they aren’t new to race organisation. Entry for the 10k was £25 so it wasn’t cheap, particularly with no goody bag beyond a medal, banana and pack of shortbread. I appreciate that there are costs involved in organising the race, not least the buses. But ultimately I paid for a 10k race, I didn’t get that, I wouldn’t have entered to run an 8.25k/5.12 mile race and so I think there should be some gesture of goodwill from the organisers. We will just need to wait and see if that is forthcoming.