Rochford 10k Race Report, Sunday 8th May by Matt Barrett.

The days are getting that little bit longer and the weather is (allegedly) warming so most of us are putting aside the longer mile races in favour of focusing on the shorter distances. This brings me to last week’s Rochford 10K, located along the banks of River Crouch.  As the race takes place less than two miles from my home, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to volunteer to write my first race report.

Last year I ran the inaugural Rochford 10K, a race with a 50/50 spilt between road and trail. Despite being one of my first distance races, really loved it, and instantly decided that I must sign up again straight away.

However, fast forward 12 months – I’ve just come back from a two week holiday with no training and far too much chocolate and ice cream. Add to that an annoying chest infection and I can definitely say that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to running my local 10K in the heat as my first post Brighton marathon race.

So there I am on Sunday morning at 8:40am pinning race number 42 to my Flyers top already thinking, it’s too hot, I’ve not done enough training, and oh, I’m 4.4kg heavier. Breathe, relax, and take time to go through the pre-race check list;

Race number, check, sun cream on, check, post-race bag packed, check, choose my race shoes, check, heart rate monitor, check, where are my sunglasses?! Finally out the door to meet up with Mark Chapman and enjoy leisurely pre-race warm-up jog from Hockley to Ashingdon School where the race starts.

Mark is boosting my confidence by getting me to ignore negatives and chatting with other runners also making their way to the start. We then begin to wonder how many Flyers will be running in Rochford and what adventures other are having making their way to Bruges, participating in the Bluebell 5 only 10K away, as well as the Halsted marathon (very well done 26.2 milers!) I was also thinking how far would I be away from my race number, 42?

 

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We are nonetheless greeted by a sea of orange that seems to extend across the school playground – I think there were 37 of us running, and a massive welcome to our new Flyers running at their first race with us, Samantha Shepherd, Sally Anne Rotherwell, Ruth O’Connor and Louise Hammond.

What was the talk of the day? What time are you going for/pacing (sort of), the course (not really), what we had been up to since yesterday’s parkrun (nope) – you’ve guessed it, the age old British tradition of the weather! How hot is it today? 28 degrees? Perfect BBQ weather for tonight!

Time for the Flyers picture “everyone say Flyers!”. We were even asked by Cllr Heather Glynn, Chair of Rochford District Council to join in (though I can’t find the pictures)

 

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Onto the race itself, as I’m sure that’s what you want to know about, not my less than perfect planning… Should you run it or not? A simple yes.

As 10am approached we are shepherded from Ashingdon School to start, on the neighbouring Fambridge Road which runs down to the embankment along the River Crouch via a local farm. As usual I’m standing two metres behind the start line, Mark’s voicing we are too close to the front only for Elliot Cone to pop up and ask if I’m leading everyone off, more banter later and we are getting the pre-race briefing, before Cllr Heather Glynn wishes us luck and sounds the starting air horn, all pre-race tense release and 330 runners surge forward like an unstoppable wave.

The first km and a bit is on a closed road, before hitting a farm track to get to the river and that’s when the heat starts to hit. I’m following Clive Slayford and I’ve forgotten that he starts like Usain Bolt doing a 100m sprint!  I’m now half a km in and running too fast with a climbing heart rate.  Decision time, do I slow down or keep going running with four other runners each pacing each other? I carry on.  Clive has started to drop back at this point and I’m starting to sweat hard – have I mentioned it was hot!?!?

Everyone is now spreading out with Orange dotted throughout the field as the transition between tarmac road to gravel farm track take place as everyone settles into their race pace. Once we are at the river its 2km through ankle height grass and into a cooling easterly head wind, its picturesque scene of the South Essex farmland, not a cloud in the sky and quiet (well if you discount the heavy breathing of runners). The ground is uneven but it is relatively flat and I’m chatting with fellow runners about whether the Bluebell 5 in the woods would have been a better decision today – lots of laughs were heard.

3.7km in and the first relief, a water stop. I’m hot, sweating with a heart rate of 160+ (which is a bit high for me)  I still manage to have a bit of a laugh with the marshals at the station about topping up the tan,  they’re in high spirits ready to return the laughs while handing out 300 or so water bottles to us thirsty runners.

Half a Km later, the only steep hill on the course, remembering the embankment climb from last year being tough I’m truly thankfully, namely the inspired decision to put Lisa Bolton Erica Belle at the top and for the landowner to cut the grass shorter. Thank you Lisa Bolton Erica Belle, your enthusiasm powered many runners up that hill today, while smiling, cheering and shaking your pom-poms.

 

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Now its just 3km along the top of the embankment, again this is grassy but more uneven as it feels like a 4×4 has been up here during the winter, picking a line is more difficult and requires a little effort but nothing to worry about. But what a view.  This is what the summer is about – fresh air, beautiful scenery, and perfect weather. The Crouch is looking inviting, wouldn’t it be nice to be on a boat today, wait, where has the wind gone?

I’m starting to struggle now and it seems when I look back I’m not the only one, the combination of sun, heat, grass and that climb is taking its toll on a good few runners. The good part of running a switch back, is being able to cheer on fellow Flyers going in the other direction. Lots of “go Flyers” later and almost falling over whilst cheering, I’ve got to walk, looking round only to find Gary Rowley closing and we walk together for a bit chatting about the conditions and scenery.

I decide at this point, each time my heart rate hits 168 I will stop and walk and wait until it drops to a manageable 158, there just no point in running too hard with the heat and lack of training, potentially injuring myself or requiring support from the marshals is just not worth it. I spot a few marshals with cameras, time for a few smiles and a few poses like a good many Flyers it would seem.

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Three walks later and 7/8km in I get to level with farmers gravel road, but with 1km due to another switch back, I’m left wondering where the water station is? Finally dropping down the embankment and back into the wind which is rather refreshing I’m starting to hear “not far to go now” and “you’re the first Flyer” but really am feeling it now. The third place female passes me, so I give her the good news, sorry Chantel Bolt-Mason I would not have cheered her so much knowing you were 30ish seconds behind us.

Finally at the second and final water stop next at the farm, cups this time, boo. A number of runners end up standing around to drink but I’m a seasoned pro after Brighton surely.  NO! Grasp, sip, throw rest in my face, argh, ouch, argh suncream and sweat in the eyes, ignore it suck it up Matt! A thank you to the marshals and transition back to tarmac of Fambridge Road.

How much did I miss you blessed tarmac? A shocking fitness level from me and I’m, looking over my shoulder to tell Gary that the 9K board is slightly out only to see Alex Childs instead- time to pick up the pace and ignore heart rate…

To finish you turn off Fambridge Road and run back into Ashingdon School completing the extended T like loop, the noise of all the supporters cheering us crazy runners on this hot hot hot day. A quick wave and then a sprint to the line. I’m feeling tired and hot with booming heart but I’m resolved not to be out sprinted, crossing the line a surprising as first Flyer home.

 

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Alex is five seconds behind me and captured on camera at the perfect moment. Facebook profile picture me thinks.

A couple of PB’s – well done to Alex Childs and Nila Chauhan on achieving new 10km personal bests in some tricky conditions, just think what you could do?

The race is using a good old fashioned stop-watch and note pad so don’t worry about removing timing chips.

I collected my medal from Cllr Heather Glynn and despite my bedraggled state, even received a kiss for having her laugh. Time for shade, a drink and a quick rest before cheering everyone else home.

The medals this year are the inverse of last year’s black on blue. I wonder what next year will bring? Will I be there next year to find out? It’s highly likely.

I’m glad to say that despite a few post-race medical emergencies due to the heat all Flyers are safe, well and accounted for and supported in their time of need. Also an inaccurate DNS have been amended thankfully.

If you were wondering, I surprisingly did finish higher than my race number, in 39th.

 

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However this is what the Flyers is all about, running for fun and finishing together, who really cares what times or position when you are with friends.

 

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Thank you Rochford Running Club for hosting another 10K race, your marshals were brilliant. You can read the official Rochford 10K race report here: http://www.rochfordrunningclub.org.uk/32.html

One of the pleasurable parts of writing this race report is looking through the numerous sources of pictures and seeing all the smiling faces and action shots, I’ve included some of my favourites for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my musings on last week’s race and so here are my last words…

I may not always run as a Flyer, or get to as many Flyer runs as I would like, but running with the photogenic and friendly Flyers is an absolute pleasure – until our next race/run #‎ForeverFlyers

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