Chelmsford 10k – the wonderfully wet one

Runners are a right funny bunch. What would normal people’s response be to the following weather warning:

Met Office Warnings Issued For: Essex

Yellow warning of rain

Persistent and locally heavy rain will continue through much of today. With the rain falling on saturated ground, it may cause flooding in places before clearing away slowly eastwards later today. The public should be aware of this hazard.

Most normal people would of course hunker down indoors, get a fire going and catch up on repeats of Murder, She Wrote. But not runners, and especially not those who run under the orange flag of Flyers Southend. No; we’d paid for the Chelmsford 10k, and by golly we were going to run it, flooding or no.

Unusually the race had an afternoon start, which did have the advantage of giving us a Sunday lie-in for a change. Just forty minutes or so from Southend, it was nice and local. Parking was plentiful in the sports centre car park, and facilities were basic but adequate. Although I can’t even begin to describe the horror that awaited us in the ladies toilets. I’ll be having nightmares for some time to come.

The club house soon filled up with runners trying to escape the persistent rain (see Met Office warning above…), and the smell of warm bodies and Deep Heat was just becoming a touch unpleasant when we were called to the start, a 10 minute walk away.  Which actually gave us the chance to do a gentle warm up through the mean streets of Chelmsford, and to get used to the persistent rain (yep, that again).

After the obligatory starting line photo (and apologies to those who were missed), we were off, up a hill. One that unusually had a stream of rain water cascading down it. To be honest though, we knew we were going to get wet, so the only option was to embrace it and enjoy the feeling of cold water seeping through your socks (or was that just me?).

The race was run mostly on small country roads, which weren’t closed to traffic. It was fairly well marshalled, and included a few hills, but nothing too challenging. The finish was on a race track, offering those who were up for it the chance of a nice bouncy sprint finish.

The race wasn’t incident free, however. One huge puddle across the width of the road saw a fellow runner come a cropper, landing face first in the water. Unfortunately she had obviously hurt her ankle quite badly; but luckily for her, the hero of the hour, Rich Pryor, stopped and picked her up along with another runner and helped her hobble back to the nearest marshal (who wasn’t actually that near). Well done, Rich – true Flyers spirit.

Although I wasn’t an eye-witness to the other incident, apparently as a group of Flyers were wading their way through another particularly deep  puddle half way round the course, a very pleasant BMW driver purposefully drove through it in such a way as to spray them head to toe and get them as wet as possible.  I hear that a few choice words were aired as a result (potty mouths, the lot of them…).

So the overall verdict on the race? A couple of hills, some close calls with drivers on narrow country lanes, and puddles masquerading as lakes.  But any race run with the Flyers is a joy, whatever the weather. And thanks so much to Pete and Maggie for their hospitality and fantastic pub grub afterwards. Oh, and most importantly, we got a rather nice medal for our soggy efforts…

Chelmsford 10k

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