Sunday, 26 June 2011

Race for Life

It takes 15 minutes to get from my house to the Basingstoke Race for life venue at Down Grange Sports Complex. Normally. Number one daughter and I left the house just before 10am leaving ourselves plenty of time to get to the carpark, pin on our race numbers, and get to the start line. This is the third year we've run this race, so we thought we knew what to expect in terms of making sure we got there on time.

We were doing fine until about a mile and a half from the venue, when the traffic virtually ground to a halt. We were inching forwards, being overtaken by pedestrians. The clock was inching towards 10.30am, and I was tempted to boot my daughter out of the car and get her to walk so that at least one of us would be there at the start, but I didn't like the idea of abandoning her and there were still a few dangerous roads to cross. It suddenly dawned on me that the Race for Life that was supposed to be on yesterday had been cancelled, and it seems that a lot of people who were supposed to run then decided to turn up today. We eventually drove all the way into the ground, only to be turned back as the car park was full! At this point I did boot my passenger out - I had no idea how far away the nearest alternative car park was, and a lot of the marshals were equally clueless. It was 'only' quarter of a mile away, but by the time I arrived in the carpark it was about five to eleven. I parked, locked the car and ran! Fast! As I approached the venue I heard the countdown to the start of the race over the tannoy.... '10, 9, 8, 7...etc.' I dashed through a gap in a hedge and ducked under the tape at the edge of the starting pen - praying I was fairly near the front just as the race started. I guess I crossed the start line about a minute after the start. Still amongst the 'runners' group, but with no idea where my daughter was!

The start of Race for Life is always hellish! It is a fairly safe bet that if you are in cut off jeans and flip flops with a pink afro wig on your head then you are not going to be able to run terribly fast, so don't start with a group of similarly attired friends at the very front of the race and then walk 6 abreast so that no one can get past you! Similarly, this is not really a great race to bring your Yorkshire terrier too, and 'run' with him! I know people do run with dogs, but there are several common sense things to observe, e.g. keep your dog close to you on a tight rein, have a lead that is visible, run near the back of the race and keep to one side of the main body of runners etc. Had one runner observed these simple rules I would not have tripped over her dog's lead and ended up kicking her dog! I am afraid to say I swore quite fluently as it was not much fun for me (and probably not for the dog either) as I crashed to the ground! The owner was not at all apologetic - and looked like she was about to have a go at me, so I did the only thing I could think of and ran like mad! As I turned a corner I did look back and the dog seemed to be OK, trotting along quite nicely!

As an aside, I did think that as marshalling jobs go, the guys at this race got to see an awful lot of badly supported women bouncing around the course! Get yourselves a sports bra ladies!!!

The weather took its toll on a lot of people today, it was 29C and a lot of the run was in blazing sunlight. I took advantage of as much of the available shade as possible and had a fairly enjoyable run once I had got past the melee at the start! As I got to the last kilometre I passed a young girl who was really flagging, so I slowed down to encourage her - she'd run a fast time to that point, and I knew how gutted I'd be if I'd run that well and then slowed down. She had no water with her, and was looking really hot - so I gave her some of my water - we ran together for a while - me telling her that she couldn't let an old bird like me beat her! She was only 14! She did finish just in front of me, but then I felt awful because I realised how awful she looked! The first aiders grabbed her just before she fell down, gave her water, found her some shade etc.

As we ran down towards the finish someone shouted my name! No idea who it was and there were only about 4 of us in the last 100m at that point. I finished in 22.10 minutes by my Garmin - which sounds good, but my Garmin also tells me that the route is only 4.59km long! It then took me ages to find my daughter! She finished in just under 29 minutes, but we missed each other at the end, and I couldn't see her amongst the sea of pink! I did spot the dog and its owner crossing the finishing line - the dog was being carried as it was too tired to walk any further!

We bought ice cream and cold drinks, then spotted the special race T-shirts which had our names on them (very small along with all the other runners' names), my persuasive daughter managed to get me to buy her a hoodie too!

I know that these events are designed to raise money for charity, but I do come away from them in a bad mood! I have decided that, no matter what, I won't do it again next year! My daughter can do it with friends, and I will happily drive them there, buy ice creams, take photos and shout and cheer. But I will not run it!

1 comment:

  1. I can understand why you don't come away from these happy - I gave up on it a few years ago as even I get a bit stuck behind walkers and frustrated ... Well done both for completing it and I'm sure the girl you helped was glad to have got round and was well looked after at the end.