Thurrock 10K, A rookie dog runners view! by Vicky Irvine

As a newbie to running, I heard about Billericay 10K and attempted to enter but it was full. I then saw ‘Thurrock 10k’ and thought ‘Why not?’ I commented on Facebook that I had entered it, to see comments like ‘It’s Fast and Flat’- Now flat I liked the sound of. Fast, I’ll never be! But then, I have no issue finishing last. In fact, one thing I learnt from the Southend and Leigh 10Ks were actually that a number of runners that enter don’t actually finish! I’m certainly not a quitter so I’ll probably never really be ‘last’.

With most of the flyers in Billericay, I roped in my friend Tash to join me. Company in the car, but not on the route (this girl does sub 4 hour marathons!). As the event came closer, I heard a few of the flyers would be there (albeit the guys who I’d hardly spoken to as they run way too fast for me!).

The Wednesday before the event, Amanda suggested on the tailrunners page that the event was ‘Dog Friendly’. My eyes lit up! BUT… she couldn’t find the email! So immediately emailed the organiser myself (I’m pretty sure I should have been concentrating on the football match I was at but Soldado was putting on a terrible impression of a striker who could blame my lapse in concentration!).

By Friday afternoon, my email had not been responded to. So I called the organiser. A little rude on the phone asking ‘Is IT muzzled?’ but still, the outcome was that Rafa was welcome to run with me. So, having missed the woods Friday night because it was Halloween, Rafs and I did parkrun. Afterwards, speaking to Scotty, I was talking about how cheap it was (£12) and we got a t-shirt and medal. Scotty warned me to not have too much expectation. It was likely to be a 1986 world cup t-shirt.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling pretty rough and the weather looked grim. ‘No PB today’ I thought. I picked up Tash and we made our way there, which was a really easy drive (I am a new driver) and we got there early but there was already no space in the Royal Hotel Car Park. Luckily found a street space bigger enough to fit a bus in. We made our way to a very windy desk to collect our numbers. The Royal Hotel said Rafa could sit in the reception area until breakfast had finished, then he could go in the bar. We had quite a wait and there wasn’t much space, but the time passed. We had a pre-race photo and made our way to the start line, which was a walk from the hotel. It was very cold and windy but I didn’t wear a jacket when you are a newbie like me you get warm very quickly!

Before The Race

Before The Race

The start was a bit chaotic, and we had to run single file a few metres round a tiny cone and back (not so easy with a dog who wants to steam off at 100mph!) but once we got started, we were good. I wouldn’t say it is a dog friendly course as the pathways were very narrow and over taking very difficult as it looped so you had runners running in the opposite direction to you. It wasn’t closed to the public so we had a few dog walkers with out of control, off lead dogs running around. There was also a wheelchair racer and several visually impaired runners with their guides. The course was not really wide enough to run a dog. It certainly wouldn’t suit the big ‘packs’ of Flyers we’ve seen run together at Southend, Leigh and Billericay.

It started to rain pretty much from the off. At 3 miles my ‘map my run’ told me ‘TIME 28minutes, DISTANCE 3 miles’- my goodness, that was quick for me! The quickest ever! If I keep this up I could do sub 1 hour! But then the heavens really opened! Rafa hates the rain so a few times he tried to run for the bushes or hide under my legs. It was all going wrong. My new trainers were filling with water and getting very heavy. Huge, muddy puddles were unavoidable. Water and sweat mixing and dripping into my eyes making them burn. I even breathed in some rain and had a coughing fit. I have to admit I seriously considered quitting at mile 5, but I heard the woman running just behind me say ‘I can’t believe A DOG is putting me to shame’. That was enough motivation to steam ahead of her further!

The last few metres and I saw all the Flyers and my friend Tash, and they shouted ‘Go on Rafa!’ and this spurred him on to find some energy from somewhere to really pull me over the line. What was my time? Surely I couldn’t have beaten my 70;32 in this? I heard the lad with the stopwatch mutter ‘67’ ’67??!’ I’d only gone and done it! The elation made me forget it was freezing cold, soaking wet. I hadn’t even picked up my medal and my t-shirt (which wasn’t vintage world cup at all!)

Rafa and I

Rafa and I

The happiness from the PB made me put aside the RSPB café being un-dog friendly and making me stand outside in the cold! Thankfully the flyers got me a water and leant me a jacket!
I had to drive home in my underwear. Everything was soaked and like a true rookie, I hadn’t looked at the weather forecast or brought spare clothes. Steve’s fleece was in the boot but Rafa needed that as he was wet and cold too. I didn’t care though. The result was all that mattered. And the race at £12? OK, it lacked the professionalism of Southend and Leigh 10K – no chip timing, very few people supporting the event and a chaotic start, but the t-shirt was fine, the medal was OK and they even gave Rafa one of his own!

So cannot complain. Next year, I’ll do it again but not with Rafs!

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One comment

  • Ohhh Vicky!!!! Sounds like a HUGE learning curve. Well Done magnificent effort and FIRST DOG HOME! I always get a ”not getting beaten by a dog” comment and I think, you needn’t worry about him worry about me! mwoah ha ha

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