Category Archives: Races

Great Bristol Run 10k

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!

Relive my run


Chippenham parkrun 12.05.18

I’m in Chippenham this weekend visiting Dawn, primarily for a gig in Bath on Friday night but also for the Great Bristol Run 10k tomorrow (Sunday).

Whilst I’m here I decided I’d have a go at the local parkrun, just as I did on my last visit. Well, it’d be rude not to considering it’s only a few minutes walk away!

On my initial running of the course back in February there had been a slight alteration to due to work on a path in the park but now that the works had been completed I was keen to take a look at the ‘normal’ route … plus I naturally was keen to try and beat my time to at least set an event pb.

Joining in with the visitors/first timers briefing it was nice to be remembered by the run director and welcomed back to Chippenham plus get a wee shout out when she was giving the general briefing. I also had a chat with her afterwards, which was nice. It’s little touches like that which make a visitor feel very much part of the event.

The course begins with two anti-clockwise loops of Monkton Park before going along the newly resurfaced path and doing another two loops of the riverside trail/gravel area before returning back to Monkton Park.

I knew the trail section would slow me down, so I set off quite quickly to make the most of the tarmac loops and was pleased with how I got on, going nine seconds faster than last time.

Moving onto the trail, it was a relief to see that although it was uneven it was firm underfoot so I didn’t have to worry about slipping or losing my footing … apart from keeping an eye out for the massive rabbit hole!

The fast start came back to bite me on the bum a bit, but I was expecting my energy to sap a bit anyway on the trail because my legs would have had to have worked harder anyway. My focus was not to lose too much time, to keep plugging away and conserve something for the last km when I’d be back on tarmac.

And that’s basically what happened. That last kilometre was just a couple of seconds slower than the first which was very encouraging and pleasing.

Overall, I was 1:36 quicker than my last time in Chippenham – so a new course personal best, and my fourth fastest parkrun ever.

Now the challenge is to see if I can go faster again on my next visit in June!

Relive my run

Belfast City Marathon 2018 (Relay)

Having previously taken part in the 8-mile Walk of the Belfast City Marathon the decision to form a team for the relay was going to be my first experience of running the event.

The idea was mooted a few months ago and for a while we had settled upon a team but, as happens, other commitments and unforeseen circumstances ruled various people out as the event approached. Indeed, right up until around a couple of weeks before we only had three members which meant a couple of us would be running two legs each.

That wasn’t really a problem and plans were made to accommodate this but, in the end, we managed to pull together the full quota of five members … and so The 70s Shams (don’t ask!) were formed, namely Lisa, Terry, Eugene and the two originals, myself and Iverene.

Once individual preferences were sorted out I ended up getting the second leg of 3.3 miles, which was also the shortest leg but I didn’t really mind to be honest. I’ll be running a lot more and a lot further in the coming weeks so this served the purpose of getting me a run without the risk of tiring my legs.

Arriving in Belfast, Lisa (leg one runner) and I walked the 20 minutes or so to the front of the City Hall for the start, whereupon I took her bag which she would collect at the handover and made my way to Bridge End to wait for her arriving.

I somewhat overestimated the time it’d take to get there! I reached my starting point before the race itself had even begun at 9am so I was in for a bit of a wait!

Lisa’s leg was 10k, and she had told me to expect her at around 10:15am. Because I had got there early I tried to keep active and warm as I waited for her to arrive, so there was a lot of jogging on the spot and dynamic stretching. We had been promised a warm, sunny day but as I waited it was cold and overcast.

The race leaders started to arrive after half-an-hour or so and it actually got quite exciting watching them. I’m never quick enough to be in the same company as the front runners at any race (unless they’re lapping me!) so it was great to see them and to be a spectator for once.

Then, right on cue, I spotted Lisa a little further up the road so I readied myself for the off … just as the sun came out!

Taking over from Lisa, I initially went straight into my heart rate training which I’ve been doing a lot of recently but after a minute or so I thought ‘stuff this’ and decided I would run this as hard as I could, whilst being mindful of the sudden heat and the steady rise that awaited me.

My route took me over the Queen’s Bridge, into the city centre via Ann Street, along High Street, Castle Street and out towards the west of the city whereupon it basically it went uphill for the next 2.5 miles. Not massively so, but it was gradual and continuous.

I felt good, and was running fast enough to be able to go past quite a few others which was quite the novelty for me.

I was also quite amused because my route took me along the Falls Road and then onto the Shankill Road, polar opposites politically and culturally, yet so very close to each other.

I’ve never been in either place before but it was blatantly obvious which was which from the colours and murals alone … yet the people looked the same, and supported the runners the same. Such is life in Northern Ireland.

Enjoying myself, I felt stronger the more I ran and I really started to get into it. But then, far too soon, I reached my handover point and, with some disappointment, passed the ‘baton’ to Terry for him to start the third leg.

I could have run on, but I wanted to get the free shuttle bus back to Ormeau Park to cheer all the finishers home.

Getting there, I quickly found a prime spot just before the entrance to the park for the final 100 metres and bedded in for the next couple of hours. As with earlier, it was great to see all the other runners go past and giving an extra cheer to those I recognised from club, or who were struggling. For a few seconds as they passed I was really invested in them before moving on to the next runner.

I have experienced support from the runners perspective, but rarely from the other side, so it was fantastic – on such a glorious day – to soak up the atmosphere.

But the real highlight was seeing Iverene, our leg five runner, approach to bring our team ‘home’. We finished in a chip time of 4:42:25 … it was a fantastic effort from everyone, and I’d like to thank my other four team-mates for a hugely enjoyable experience and an all round great day out.

Relive my run