Oxford Town & Gown 10K

Date: May 13, 2012 10:00:00

It was the 31st running of this race but the first time for me. I was attracted by the description of a "fast and flat course" and by the thought that there would be interesting things to look at on the way round. (Yes I know serious runners are too busy focussing on their body and their footstrike etc to look about them but I am definitely not one of those people.)

Two weeks ago I ran a 10k race in the teeth of freezing, driving rain, and once I'd warmed up afterwards I realised I had really enjoyed it. This time the sun was shining from an almost cloudless sky. I hoped it wouldn't get too warm as I get hot really quickly!

I got to the Peartree P+R by 8:45am. The instructions from the race organisers recommended runners NOT to use that P+R as people had been stranded there in earlier years, but there were buses and not many other folk around and I got to the race start in oodles of time. Just as well, as I had misread the instructions as a 10:30 start and actually it was 10am! There was a very small queue for the loos so I was able to get comfortable without stressing about missing the start - always a plus.

The race was started by Christine Hamilton who is apparently an ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, the race organisers. I couldn't actually see her but she sounded very encouraging and positive and not at all battleaxe-y  
I stood alongside the "under 60 minutes" placard and started my watch as the gun went off. The starting road was quite narrow for the number of runners and it took a while to reach the start mat. You couldn't run at anything other than tiny-step jogging at this point. Please, people who seem to think jinking left and right is a good idea in a crowd of runners : Just Don't Do It!

Anyway, after about a mile and a half the crowd had spread out enough so I could get into a better rhythm. As we went along the High Street I was surprised to hear someone shout my name and "Good work!" - a friend's daughter was marshalling  That was unexpected, and nice. As we wound around the streets I was trying to keep to any shade as by now I was getting very hot. I had some water in the freebie plastic Shotz bottle (from the Blackminster goodie bag) which *just* fits in the back pocket of my capris and I took a few sips and sprinkled some water down the back of my neck, but I was beginning to feel uncomfortably hot. The elite runners glided along on the other side of the road, close to finishing (the course record was broken by an Ethiopian guy, at 29mins something  ) How do they make it look so easy?

By about 6k my mind was beginning to whisper "why not walk a bit? You're sooo hot..." I HATE it when this happens, as once I've thought about walking I am such a mental weakling I find it very hard to resist. If I'd taken some jelly babies with me this would have been the time to eat one, and I would have ignored that little voice. I did walk, but very briefly - maybe10 steps   and then got going again.
By now I was being passed by more runners than I was passing, though there were plenty of walk/runners too. I was just thinking about having another little walk break when who should pop up but Jo, the friend's daughter, with more encouraging shouts - well I couldn't walk in front of her, could I?  

Finally we left the streets for the park and the last 3 km. I passed a young chap collapsed at the side of the path - he was conscious but rambling, and there were people attending to him so I hope he's OK. I could hear the announcer over the tannoy welcoming runners across the finish line but the course meanders around the park and a little lake before eventually turning onto grass for the last 400m. I picked up the pace a bit and phew, finally, I was finished in 58:13. Not a great time but under the hour at least.

Will I do it again? Possibly. It was well organised, and it is a flat and interesting course. If it had been a cooler day I would have enjoyed it a lot more but the weather is always in the lap of the gods. By the time you add up petrol costs to Oxford and the P+R charges, plus the entry fee for the run (which includes a non-tech T-shirt and a medal), it is a bit expensive for a 10k event.

Distance: 10K
Reviewer: Claire Hawes
Venue: Oxford