Sunday, 6 March 2011

Leighton 10k race report

This was my first proper race of the year (if you discount the XC season which I consider more training than racing). I seldom race either so was looking forward to this one, and to hopfully put down a new marker for the 10k distance which I haven't raced in well over 2+ years.
Pre-race calve stretch

I didn't do any specific training for this race as much, and interesting since the beginning of the year my average weekly mileage has been just 17 miles. However I've covered over 500 miles on the ElliptiGO in the same period which has really boosted my fitness and kept the cobwebs away. So what could I realistically achieve at the 10k distance on a flatish course but with two significant climbs (one at half way and the other at 8k). Well I haven't gone sub 40 minutes before so this was my first target, but I had hoped to perhaps get nearer to 38 minutes.

The field was 200 strong and the race was started by legendary local hero Frank Bruno! I figured I would start up at the front so as not to get caught up in the pack, and try and run my own race. My strategy was simple... Run 6 minute mile pace for as lon as I could and if it started to hurt, suck up the pain and push on strong.

He needs no introduction...what a legend!
Frank blew the horn and we were off.... A sharp left out of the school gates as I decided to take the inside line...

Game on ... (all photos courtesy of Paul Douglas)
A lead pack quickly formed which included 6 others with me in 7th. The first half mile was quick at around 5:30 pace but it settled down as did I as I just went about keeping my breathing under control and legs loose. It was a good course which after the first 1.5k saw us turn off a main road and on to some nice quiet country lanes.

I remained in 7th spot but close behind to the two guys in front of me. The from four were further ahead, with the guy leading looking like he was starting to open a small gap between himself and 2nd place. I watched from afar and thought how jolly different this race was with me (the slow ultra runner - as know in the club) actually up there in a 10k race. Who would have thought it.

The km markers were great because alike mile marker they obviously come and go far quicker. Now I know that sounds really stupidly obvious but the difference it makes to the mental side is big. Anyhow we were soon 5k into the race and my breathing was getting heavier. No surprise really considering the pace. Miles 1, 2 & 3 were 5:50, 5:58, 6:08 so now averaging just under 6 minute miling at around the half way mark. I wasn't conciously looking at my watch however and was simply running to keep on the heels of the guy in front.

I passed a Luton AC runner probably a bit before half way, and then settled once again. A new runner also entered the fray and over took me and continued pass at a sub 6 pace. I wasn't goig to try and stay with him at this stage, and instead kept on the stay steady path.

The big test came on a long gradual climb between 5 and 6k. I dug in as did the guy in front. At this end of pack no one was giving away places lightly. A Thame rnuner came on my shoulder at this point and this time I decided to stick with this one. We were rewarded with a nice descent down to the 7k point, before I was back on familar ground with roads that I knew. What was coming next was the infamous Shenley Hill which starts ascending gradually before a big sharp kick at the end. And this was 8k in with just 2k left to go. I could smell the finish line and kicked up the hill keeping a similar cadence to the flat, just with slightly shortened strides. Once I crested the summit I got the arms out and windmilled down the other side taking back a place. I still felt strong too so held off the challenge for him to come back at me. We rounded a right corner and started off down the final 1k straight. By this point we were running sub 5:30 mile pace and it felt it. Mile splits from 3,4 & 6 were 6:10, 5:43, 5:48.

I gave the last km everything I had and took another place and closed down on one other guy just before the finish arch. However there was a left hand U-turn off the road to the finish arch which was very sharp. I went around the outside but he kicked for home a second infront of me. My time was 36:56, which I later found was good for 5th place on the day.

and across the line in....

36:56!! I was quite a happy chappy!

This surpassed all my expectations and I was very pleased with how my race had gone. I had gone out hard, yet still had enough in the tank to run a negative split which I would nevr have thought possible at that pace. So a new 10k PB by over 5 minutes I think. As I said I hadn't run this distance for a long time so a PB was always on the cards but by that margin is awesome.

Training wise I think this performance and how I have been feelig of late is definitely down to running fewer miles (not more) and cross training on the ElliptiGO. What now remains to be seen is if I can put in another good performance in 2 weeks time at the 12hr which would surely push the training benefits of the ElliptiGO up another notch.


  1. Great race, Stu. Sub 3 hour marathon achievable on that performance!

  2. Great to hear you are going out hard and reaping the benefits mate. Still considering yourself a "slow" runner then! I appreciate you are not are driven by times, but 37 minute 10K's don't equate to 1.30 halves and 3.30 marathons! IF you wanted to there is loads more there! Just look at the times of the people around you in the club for their 10Ks.

  3. cheers guys. I'm sure you are both right. I'm playing the long game here so plenty of time to improve and lay down more PBs over different distances. Next up the Lightning 12hr!

  4. Thanks for the message Stu, hopefully get the knee fixed for the summer months. I've been keeping tabs on your Elliptigo exploits on here, sounds awesome! Are you going over the pond for the UROC?

  5. hey Gaz - to be honest I think UROC is a pipe dream as much as I would like to go over and experience what will undoubtedly be an amazing adventure. However closer to home i've just stumbled across the North Downs Way 100 on 13th August. I didnt know this existed and am seriously considering it as I wanted to get a 100 in this year and the options in the UK are few and far between....

  6. James Elson's new races, yeah, they sound great and he obviously knows what is needed to go into these type of events. Check his blog out great account of some top races.

    Enjoy the running, I'm still waiting on the physio :-(

  7. Stu, simply awesome. Banish all thoughts of 'slow ultrarunner' from your thoughts and writings from now on. You are anything but slow.