This is a PB course. You’ll go fast here. This is one to target. I’ve heard all of these quotes regarding what is a very popular local race. Popular, in terms of the race selling out within two hours of entry opening. I was at my PC, hitting the refresh button on the race entry page, determined to get mine in – back at the beginning of December.
Committing to races early is no guarantee that you’ll be fully prepared come race day. Being hit by a virus just weeks beforehand threw any idea of a PB (I say ‘PB’ in loose terms as I am nowhere near the pace I was in my twenties) to the ducks. However, I had managed a couple of races in recent weeks so survival and perhaps even a reasonable time, was a realistic prospect.
I hadn’t run the Bourton 10k for several years, so was unfamiliar with the ‘new’ route (I believe that we did not actually leave the village itself when I last ran) but the theme was largely the same. Flat. Fast. Oh, and busy. 56 Almosts rocked up to the start, just over a tenth of the entire field, on a rather breezy morning.
Two small loops would precede an out-and-back section along the Rissington Road, turning towards Great Rissington; the U-turn negotiated between 5 and 6k. On returning to the village, a final loop would be made.
I started well back in the field so I could just ease myself into the race, and tried to avoid excess hopping around others during a rather crowded first loop. I managed to get into some sort of rhythm through the second loop and before we headed off out of the village.
I’m not generally a huge fan of an out-and-back route so I focused on those around me and tried to ignore the fact that I would be returning on the same stretch of road again. What I had failed to consider is that I would see those coming the other way and get to share a hello, or words of encouragement, with them.
That certainly helped pass the middle miles, which included a cheeky little incline at about the half-way mark (and just ahead of the U-turn we’d make). Before I know it I was approaching the 8k mark and was string to generate ambitions of picking up my feet a little more for the final loop.
Ability was no match for ambition; my body stubbornly insisting on remaining decidedly one-paced into the village. So distracted was I by my futile efforts that I failed to recognise the figure knelt directly in my path over the bridge as our very own Almost-A-Photographer Rob until the last second.
That little wake-up gave me some impetus to get onto the front of my feet for the remainder of the loop and I did manage to cross the finish well under my revised target time… and, looking back, less than a half-minute from the ‘PB’ I had originally hoped for.
There will be other 10k races. As Arnie would put it: Get In The Chopper! Or is it something about being back?