As is the norm now, if I’m visiting an area I always look for a race in the locale that I can enter while I’m there which was how I ended up taking part in the Great Bristol Run 10k.
I was visiting Dawn, primarily to attend a gig on Friday night but when I spotted that this race was being held the same weekend it was a total no-brainer to get signed up. Plus it was taking place on my birthday, and who doesn’t like a bit of bling on their birthday? More on that later.
Leaving Chippenham at 7am we got into the city centre hassle free, quickly found a car park and made our way to the event village.
Thankfully there weren’t too many people around when we arrived so getting the obligatory pre-race toilet stop was an almost pleasant experience for a change – no queues, clean loos … you get the picture, as nice as a port-a-loo can be!
Following some mingling and general hanging around we walked down to beyond the start line for Dawn to find a spot so that I would know where to find her as I ran past. It wouldn’t be the first time in a race I would have missed her!
That sorted, and arrangements made for the finish, I took place in the green start area preparing to get underway. As is always the case with these mass start events there was a lot of waiting around, but at least it was a warm morning so no worries about getting cold.
With the green start scheduled for 9:56am I think I crossed the line three minutes later to begin my race.
I don’t know Bristol, so I don’t know if it’s a good route or not but after not too long we crossed a flyover which my legs – still putting up their usual early-in-a-run protest – didn’t like.
Thankfully, what goes up must come down, and the little drop down the other side put me and my legs back on speaking terms.
After that the route was flat for the next few miles. We ran along the river under the Clifton Suspension Bridge (the only part of Bristol I recognised), turned and came back down the other side of the road, back under the bridge, through a tunnel and then turned off into the city centre.
I had done the first 5k in parkrun PB time, and a couple of minutes faster than Chippenham yesterday, but as we headed back into the city we encountered a series of little climbs, nothing major but enough, coupled with the heat, to sap my energy a bit with the result that my second 5k was a few minutes slower.
But, to be honest, I wasn’t really worried. I was having a ball. The crowds in the city centre were fantastic and plentiful, they gave every runner loads of encouragement.
I also had extra support not only from the crowds but also from my fellow runners.
I haven’t mentioned yet that, because it was my birthday, I wore a ‘birthday boy’ badge on the front of my shirt and a sign proclaiming it on my back. Partly for a bit of fun and partly because I’d been dared to do so by a few from my club!
And fun it proved to be. Right from the start I decided to keep a mental tally of how many birthday wishes I got from those running alongside me. Not necessarily because I’m as vain as that but as a tactic to give me something to focus on when or if the going got tough.
The final score? 107 ‘happy birthdays’ and three renditions of the birthday song.
It was a laugh, and gave me plenty of opportunity to chat which really passed the time and, hopefully, also brought a little smile to my fellow competitors.
Race done, I think it was my third fastest competitive 10k, I met back up with Dawn and after the obligatory medal pictures, went off for my birthday lunch and a much needed drink.
It was a fantastic day all round. I really enjoyed myself. Thanks to Dawn for being my support crew and for going above and beyond (again!) and thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday either out on the course, watching from the sidelines or via message. Truly a day to remember!