Racing Owain: 5k v 10k

As most of you will have seen from Facebook, Owain and I headed to Pitlochry a few weeks ago for their 5k and 10k races.  Owain had signed up for the 10k but unfortunately I wasn't fit enough to run the 10k distance.   I had toyed with the idea of the 5k but wasn't sure whether to run it or not. I dont mind paying for 5k races but when it was £12 to run the 5k and £14 to run the 10k, the 10k seemed a much better deal.

The weekend before the race we decided we would stay overnight after the race and were looking at timings for the day.  This is when we realised both races started and finished in the same place. with the 5k starting about 5 minutes after the 10k.  This got us thinking.  Owain's 10k PB is 35 minutes, my 5k time just now is around 31 minutes with the aim of getting back under 30.  With 5 minutes difference between the start of the races, this would mean we would be finishing around the same time.  Now that made things interesting!  I decided to sign up for the 5k with the intention of racing Owain to the finish.  We knew there was an element of trail running through the forest in both races, which would suit Owain better, we all know how clumsy I am!

Owain had headed out for a warm up but managed to catch him at the start line and wish him luck for his race - he would need it!!  The 10k runners lined up and at 1pm they were off.  The 5k runners were called to line up almost immediately afterwards and given there were only 60 of us, it wasn't long before we were off.  I did have a bit of a worry there being only 60 runners and whether I would end up last. but my main thoughts were to run as fast as I could to beat Owain.  Our friend Bev was also running the 5k so we set off together.  She did comment that we had started earlier than 1.05 so time should be on our side but I wasn't taking any chances!

The 5k and the 10k follow the same route for the first 2k and it wasn't long before we caught the back runners from the 10k.  At this point we were on a path alongside the main road, so had to pick and choose when we could drop on to the road to try and pass folk.  It was pretty undulating at this point and I was feeling confident that my pace was on target.  Just after the 2k mark, the 5k heads left into the forest.  The race website said there were some trail paths - we soon discovered that it was a full k in the forest.  Given I am so clumsy, I am not hugely confident running on trail and the route itself was pretty tough, loads of uphill and even included a set of wooden steps, with a sharp turn and then some concrete steps.  At this point I slowed to a walk to make sure I would get round in one piece and was thankful to Bev telling me we were okay as we had extra time on our side.  In the forest, it seemed to b just me and Bev out on a run together, I couldnt see or hear any other 5k runners.

Thankfully we were soon out the forest but we were then faced with a gradual climb for the next k or so.  It was at this point Bev became competitive Bev and decided to chase the folk in front.  Unfortunately, this is where my lack of fitness showed and I had to slow to get my breathing a bit more under control - perhaps I had gone off too fast in trying to make sure I would beat Owain.  The last k or so takes you along the A9 and then a final downhill finish towards Pitlochry Theatre.  As I turned to come in off the A9, I could hear fast footsteps behind me and knew the front runners from the 10k were coming through.  I had a quick look behind and couldn't see Owain but just had to keep focused.  

As I came towards to top of the hill before we start the downhill towards to the theatre, I had a quick look behind me to see if I could see Owain.  I managed to catch a glimpse of bright trainers but wasn't sure if it was him.  Thankfully the finish line was in sight at this point.  Gordon Donnachie was on the course taking photos and I am not sure if the photo below is me checking for Owain or spotting the finish line:

(cheers for the great pics as always Gordon)

From here in it was one final push downhill, no looking back just pushing hard across the finish.  I had did it - I managed to finish before Owain!! Woo hoo!  My finish time was 33.32 but was slightly longer at 3.19 miles.  I got through the finish funnel, collected my medal and had a quick chat with Bev and then spotted Owain coming down the finish.  He had a great run and managed to finish in 6th place in 36.50.  He was very gracious in defeat, giving me a congratulatory hi-5.

Interestingly, when we uploaded our garmins, we saw that the 10k started at 12.58 and the 5k at 1pm, so only 2 minutes difference.  Had the races started as expected with 5 minutes in between, our finish times would have had me finishing 18 seconds before Owain.  In reality, if that was the difference I have no doubt that Owain would have spotted me and managed a super fast finishing sprint to beat me on the line.  But the times are what they are and I will continue to let everyone know that I beat him!!!

Mandy Williams

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