A Heck of a Race (Heckington 10 miles...or should that be 9.9?)
Having started running in 2014 and deciding after PGER in 2015 that the furthest I'd race (I use the term race loosely as I'm never going to win!) would be 10k I'm not sure why I entered Heckington 10 miles.
My running had been going well with both pace and distance improving so I decided to try something longer this year. Tim suggested Heckington, part of the Club Champs series this year for WJ and reputedly part of the UK's largest village show so here I was on the start line.
Entry was easy (sorry I can't remember how much it was) and my race pack arrived a couple of weeks before the big day. Number, chip and race day info. complete with sat nav postcode for the car park made the 45 minute trip from Peterborough to Heckington easy and uneventful (thanks to Juliette & Paul for the lift). With storms predicted and a very rainy and windy evening on the Friday the fact we got there at all was lucky. Friday evening the shows committee took the decision to carry out an inspection Saturday morning at 6am and make an announcement at 7am as to whether the show and race would go ahead at all. Thankfully the storm died down and after a lot of frantic Facebook chatter between Joggers Saturday morning news came through that it was ON! Car parking was plentiful, muddy and rough terrain but plentiful and only a 5/10 minute walk to the race start. Plenty of portaloos close by and a tent to leave your bag in (not secure but we were assured someone would be there all the time). After the obligatory team photo we made our way to the start line.
...and we're off:
With chipped timing and no need to jostle for position the race starts in the Main Parade Ring, which sounds much grander than it was but remember this is a village show. Out onto the road, through a muddy bottleneck which because of the previous nights heavy rainfall did bring back "Frostbite" memories. The course itself, which is described as flat, in all fairness is "mainly" flat, is two loops through a few streets of Heckington and then out into the country.
The first mile marker came as my Garmin said 0.80 and I wondered if we were supposed to run all the way around the parade ring before heading out onto the road. Never mind, keep going and see what happens. Mile 2 came at 1.80 on my Garmin and this confirmed my suspicions. I plodded on, over the A17, an incline of far too great proportions for what was supposed to be a "flat" course. At around 2.5 miles came the first water station and with the weather much improved, clouds disappearing and the sun shining it was most welcome.
With plenty of marshals on the course to show the way and give encouragement (some even had entrant lists so could check your number and cheer you on by name which was a nice touch and towards the end kept me going), four water station in total and two opportunities to take a cold wet sponge we were well cared for. The first loop takes you back to the A17 flyover which does at least give you a nice down hill to get your breathe back but does also mean as a two loop course I knew I had to do it again...and again!
With the wind picking up and the course being quite exposed added to the fact that as usual I'd set off too fast mile 8 was a struggle. Back over what I was now calling the "bloody bridge" I saw the 9 mile marker and kept going. This is where it got tricky...with no-one alongside me and the runner in front way in front I was completely on my own and the marshals whist very encouraging were not so good at directing and on more than one occasion I had to ask "which way" and at one point whilst avoiding traffic coming at me from 3 directions (it's not a closed road event) I even went the wrong way! Finally back into the parade ring and with my watch still under the ten miles I assumed this would be where I'd make up the distance...wrong I crossed the line and stopped my watch at 9.9 miles!
So I've crossed the line and off I go to get my goodie bag, which involved me being sent back over the finish mat and hearing my chip beep again (not sure how that will show on the results?) Yay! I've got a hoodie...53 years old and I've never owned a hoodie. That was however all I got other than a banana and a bottle of water.
With so much going on at the show it was nice to have a wander round, a bite to eat and see all that was on offer at the show before heading home...jousting in the main ring, vintage steam engines, vintage cars, giant tortoise (yes really!), shire horses, a few funfair rides, various food stalls, craft stalls and lots more.
I'd possibly do it again despite it being two loops and not as flat as I'd like. Marshals overall were good but a bit more direction for us stragglers towards the end wouldn't have gone amiss. Nice hoodie, but not much else in the goodie bag. Shocking that the Race Director was 'distracted' and this apparently is the reason we didn't do the extra lap of the ring at the start. Now I'm nowhere near getting a Club standard at this distance but would have been mighty peed off if I had been only to find that a race that I've paid good money for wasn't managed sufficiently well enough at the start to ensure that we did the distance. Surely all they had to do was get us to round up at the end?