So the races have been coming thick and fast in June, this being the third in successive weeks. Again this race featured in the Dorset Road Race League and Club Championship so my game face was on. With it being in DRRL it was well attended by Club Runners but had a nice mixture of everyday runners, such is the natural beauty and good reputation of this run.
This was my second ever race for Littledown Harriers last year so I was interested to see how I would compare physically with the conditions being similar, last year I ran it in 40:20.
Unlike most races this is on a Friday evening which while physically I’m unsure of, I love for the social side.
After the event there is a BBQ, Ice Cream and Beer and this gives you a chance to dissect the race and hear about other people’s experiences. I really enjoy this aspect of this event as it also gives you an opportunity to meet people you’ve raced but not particularly ever spoken too. This was one the the other factors I was keen to sign up.
So we arrived an hour before and were excellently marshaled into the car parking cow field, where I’d recommend shoes rather than flip flops like me as there are quite a few cow pats! We walked to the race village which is situated in the Norden Park and Ride car park, about 5 min walk from where you’re parked. We queued up for number and chip pick up which was nice and easy and then headed back to the car to get changed. Before re-entering the field I quickly swapped my flip flops for race shoes, this was interrupted when Matt grabbed one of my shoes and made a run for it in a sure way to get those CC points 😂
The course is and out and back road race and it’s quite undulating. The roads are closed off to traffic which is nice. It starts with a gentle uphill gradient before dipping down and then there is a very gentle decline down which feels flat until you return and then it’s a bit tougher. At 2.5 miles there is a hill before dipping down again turning around and then you do that hill all over again! It dips down again and then it’s a gentle incline before it becomes steep, once over the crest it’s a downhill sprint to the finish. In training I don’t like out and backs but in this race I absolutely love it! Why, well because there are so many Harriers and other runners you know and it’s great to give a wave, thumbs up and so on, this really does give you a boost!!
Once in kit and bandana tightened I took a gel and we headed for our warm up, including the routine dash to the bushes for a pee stop (there is a toilet block but….I’m all about giving back to nature). Dave decided to try a beat his last year’s speed record by racing against the road speed warning measure with a respectable first effort of 14 mph, he then tried again on the return and we all let out a big cheer when he matched last year’s attempt of 19mph.
We lined up and with this being a chip race I lined up a few rows back in hope it’d slow me to begin with. I went on the right hand side as this is the inside line for the first corner. I offered some words of encouragement to a young runner who has just recently joined the club and gave him a couple of insights of the course which I hope were useful. To all our surprise our top runner Paul hadn’t arrived which was a disappointment to the team as he is a great runner and really helps us with the team points.
As I took the corner I passed Matt, becoming lead Harrier, and slotted in behind a pack of similar pace runners. Concious of maintaining the effort rather than racing.
When we hit the dip I lengthened my stride and passed the pack. Once I hit the flat I got into a nice stride, closing in on the group of runners ahead. Mile 1 5:41.
I tried to take in as much of the scenery as possible through mile 2 as it’s such a beautiful setting. You run through a water station at this point, and the volunteers were there ready with the water cups poised for the take. I tend not to take on fluids in a 10K so just ploughed on through. Mile 2 5:51
As you get to 2.5 miles you meet the him, it’s not a massive hill but at 10K pace it’s quite a challenge. I did however find it a lot easier than last year and it was nice self recognition of all the hard training I’ve done since last year. Even with maintaining the effort I was fatigued when I hit the crest but I again lengthened the stride on the decline and tried to replace the oxygen debt. I was able to close in slightly on the Lytchett Striders runner who beat me at Puddletown Plod at this point. Once we hit the flat I knew I had to make it count so I pushed hard. Mile 3 5:57
Once we hit the turning point I noticed Matt was only about 15 yds behind me and this gave me added impetus to push on the return leg.
Just after the turning point I passed the LS runner who sounded like he was suffering a little, this gave me a boost as I highly rate him and to beat him would be a nice achievement; plus I was feeling great. He must have dug deep though as he had a turn of speed and passed me again straight away.
Now this is where I got a bit tactical, I’m not normally one for tactics/mind games but I thought I’d give it a try. I knew we were just about to hit the hill again so I stuck on his shoulder hoping that he’d push hard to stay in front. While I would normally give a thumbs up or a wave to Harriers going the other way I up’d it slightly, giving big shout outs, claps and high fives all the while the LS runner was grunting, just to try and show that I wasn’t suffering up this hill at all….in fact I was absolutely dying aerobicly as I was pushing harder than I would of liked and all the shout outs left me with a massive oxygen debt!
As soon as we got to the crest I quickly had a turn of pace and pushed hard downhill all the while trying to take in bucket loads of air. I think also at this point you get a postcard view of Corfe Castle in the distance. When it levelled out I concentrated on regulating my breathing all the while steadying my pace. Mile 4 5:47.
It was around this point that it dawned on me that with Paul not being here I could land top points in the CC. This meant that I just need to keep pushing to stay ahead of Matt, who in my mind was currently 15 yds behind and always strong at the end. This drove me forward through Mile 5 and also closed me in on a Bournemouth AC runner who I rate. I was closing in on him relatively quickly on the mild incline, this told me he was beginning to suffer and he was now a realistic target. Mile 5 6:01
I kept on taking small chunks out of him and the two other runners just ahead. When the incline increased again I was well within 10 yds, he however stepped off and started to walk so I passed him ease.
I passed the Poole Runner as well and set my sights on the Poole AC runner. Once we were on the last hill I backed off slightly and maintained the effort hoping to get him on the downhill. This worked out as planned but he quickly passed me again, I thought that was his big deep push so I accelerated and retook the position up a small incline confident that I’d maintain the lead and then put distance between us on the decline to the finishing straight….I however got done by my own trick because as soon as we hit the decline he went passed me like a steam train and sprinted down the decline, leaving it too late for me do anything….well played sir! Mile 6 6:07
At the finish you turn into the Norden Car Park, i toom a sideways glance a d couldn’t see Matt or anyone else so I eased off ever so slightly. The finishing straight is excellent as you’ve got a man on the mic who calls out all the runners names as that come through and where it’s quite enclosed with the trees there is quite a bit of volume from the spectators.
I came through the line in 10th position with a 36:34 gun time and chip time of 36:30 WOOHOO a PB!!!!!!
Disappointingly there isn’t a medal but you I got a nice rucksack and inside there were a few bits and bobs but nothing of importance compared to the delicious flapjack which was just immense and exactly what I needed.
I stood on the side and cheered through some of the Harriers and great to see some of these guys PBing as well, especially those who really suffered in the heat of Poole 10K.
Once most were through we walked by to the car, still cheering on Harriers coming through and got changed. We then headed back to the race village where we bought a burger and beer and shared our race experiences and tried to work out where we think the team finished.
Would I run this race again? Yes without a doubt, it’s a challenging course but still a quick one if you go about it the right way, plus it has a really great atmosphere. While I enjoy the race, the social aspect of it only makes it better and long may that continue.
Would I recommend it to a friend? Of course!!!