Like a number of local events, this race is becoming increasingly popular to the point where entries sell out rather fast! It is becoming more commonplace for a club member to draw up a waiting list for number transfers and, in some cases, a bit of a scramble to complete these ahead of the transfer deadline. It is starting to rival top-flight football in this respect!
Having been fortunate enough to enter before the race filled up I found myself dithering over whether to pass my number on. I was recovering from a virus (I’d like to say ‘cold’ but this one was both stubborn in refusing to totally let go and leaving me feeling somewhat lacking in energy) and had already abandoned the idea of challenging my time from last year.
I went. There were going to be plenty of Almosts there and, regardless of how well I’d do, it was guaranteed that I’d do it in good company. The course is a good one as well; quiet back roads, with a bit of footpath, almost flat, just a couple of motorway bridges to break that up. Definite PB potential – if you’re on form.
We parked up at the school, collected our numbers (and tag-like race chips!), meeted and greeted, exchanged pleasantries, excuses, banter, lined up for the obligatory group photos (James gave us a great overhead shot) and made our way from there to the start at Walton Cardiff, about a half-mile along the road.
There was time enough for another (outdoor) group shot and to put tops into large bags, thoughtfully provided by Ian and Glenda, before we lined up for the race briefing and countdown to the off. It was a sunny day, but the start to it had been quite cold. I was in long socks, a base layer under my vest and a woollen hat. Plus, of course, shorts!
As we made our way through Walton Cardiff and towards the Wheatpieces estate I tried to settle in besides Sam and Gareth. This plan was a little less than successful in that they both moved through the field at a higher pace than I was initially comfortable with. I was finding this lack of ‘drive’ just a little frustrating.
We followed the path through the estate before it became a narrow road. With the field still relatively compact I would have struggled to increase my pace had I wanted to, the runners ahead of me pretty much occupying the full width of said road.
Eventually we reached the end of this, turned left, and found ourselves with both more space and the field more strung out. Now I was into my running I started to move forwards whilst consciously not pushing myself too much. I spotted my colleagues in the mid-distance ahead and focused on narrowing the gap between them and myself.
I drew alongside them as we commenced the incline for the first motorway bridge, approximately at half-distance, passing both Sarah and Lorraine. They repassed us on the other side and we ran pretty much line astern as the road levelled off. Passing three miles we kept up a reasonable pace and slowly drew back towards Sarah and Lorraine, passing them ahead of the second motorway bridge and four-mile mark.
Into the last mile I was urging Gareth to keep up the pace – just a few more minutes of suffering! We came back through Walton Cardiff and onto the long curving stretch that would eventually put us in sight of the finish line. It seems to go on forever. Once the line was (eventually) in sight, Gareth moved onto his toes and put on a spurt.
I followed him home as best I could (my effort at a sprint is about as effective as a crab, in terms of forward motion) feeling a small sense of relief of having finished – it was far from my best effort but I was grateful to have simply been able to run at a reasonable click.
Overall, it was a good day out for the purple army; several PBs (including Gareth), a few category prizes, a great turnout (75 Almosts, from 376 finishers) and brilliant support. This has to be one of the best local events to take part in.