I signed up for it months ago and was originally hoping that by the time race day came around, I would be getting pretty close to the 60 minute mark for my 10K time.
Of course, over the months that followed, my plans changed. I signed up for other events and other priorities took over. I was still training hard, but just not for a 10K race; so by the time I should have been ready to refocus on Race For Life, my body just wasn’t up to it.
Still, I wasn’t going to back out of the chance to run a race, so I adjusted my focus and decided that Race For Life would be a training run, an experience and an opportunity to enjoy a different type of race – and I certainly wasn’t disappointed on that score!
The event was to take place in Stanmer Park, next to Sussex University. Race For Life didn’t publish the route beforehand so, after checking out Google maps and seeing that there weren’t any paths on the map, I figured it might be a good idea to wear my trail shoes, just in case. And I was glad that I did.
It turned out that the route was all grass and trails, which was a lot of fun, especially on the downhill sections. The uphill, on the other hand, wasn’t so much fun, particularly as the first hill was right at the start. This caused a bottle neck which pretty much brought everyone to a halt and meant that we all had to walk for at least half a kilometre until it thinned out a bit.
The first couple of kilometres were a bit frustrating as, even when things did thin out, a lot of people were blocking the path by walking in the middle of it instead of keeping to the left to allow people to pass. That, and the fact that I forgot to start my Garmin as I crossed the start line, meant that my pacing went completely to pot.
After the second kilometre, however, things started to get more interesting. There was a good downhill stretch which enabled me to pick up my pace quite a bit to try to make up for the slow start, which gave my spirits a huge lift.
There was another small hill just before the water stop at the half way point, so I took a walk break and got some water. Again, this slowed things down more than it should have as the water station was basically a table with a load of two litre bottles of water and about a dozen plastic cups which we had to fill ourselves.
After stopping for water though, it was kind of hard to get going again. The course was two laps of 5K which meant climbing the hill again and, after my speedy descent over the last couple of kilometres, my legs were starting to feel it.
Even though I did my best to keep running, I eventually realised that I would have to walk most of the sixth kilometre to preserve some energy for the finish.
I knew it wasn’t going to be a great time, but I didn’t mind. I picked up the pace for the downhill and, with only a couple of short walk breaks after that, I was able to pick it up again for a strong finish and a high five for the guy with the giant hand at the finish line.
Despite the bottle neck at the top of the hill and the poorly organised water station, on the whole it was a lot of fun; and even though I’m rubbish at running uphill, the trails did make it much more fun than running on flat roads and paths.
As for my finish time? Well, the clock said 1:14:00 and my Garmin said 1:12:59, so given the fact that I started the Garmin late then I’d guess that 1:14:00 is probably closer, which isn’t too bad all things considered.
Have you done Race For Life or other events organised by charities? What did you think of the overall organisation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.