One thing which I do love about running races is the winning........er I wish, I really mean is the getting out there & discovering new places, new routes & courses often in very familiar places. Take this weekend just gone for example. I have been to Stockbridge many, many times but this was the first time I ran the Stockbridge 10Km - I know last time was it`s inaugural event but still.
Now for those that don`t know Stockbridge I think this will give you a good idea....
"The pretty Hampshire town of Stockbridge lies midway between Andover and Romsey in the stunning Test Valley. The lovely chalk streams of the upper River Test, famed for its excellent fly-fishing, flow through and around the town and it’s here you’ll find the Houghton Fishing Club, the oldest fishing club in England based at the Grosvenor Hotel in the High Street.
Lying in the heart of Test Valley, the wide picturesque Stockbridge High Street reflects its early role as part of a drovers road where it was common to see flocks of sheep or herds of cattle being driven through the town on route from Wales. Seek out the Drovers House and you can still spot a sign in Welsh.
The Test Valley is famed for its rolling hills and tranquil beauty and not far from Stockbridge you’ll find many picturesque Hampshire villages with their thatched houses, pretty churches and traditional country pubs as well as the spectacular Test Way”
Sounds lovely eh? Well that`s what I thought and a good time to place to crack a good 10Km time, well a seasons best at least.
I arrived early, parked up & walked down the Primary School to sign in & collect numbers and stuff. As I was a bit early I warmed up with a jog down the High Street - the coffee shops were packed with runners chilling out. I headed back towards my car to drop the bag off & unexpectedly bumped into my Mum. I made my way down towards the start area.
Now for some reason I though it started at 10:40am - it wasn`t it was 10:30am - so glad I didn`t have to give everyone a 10 mins head start in a 10Km. I saw my cousin & my Mum again (my Mum wasn`t running but my cousin was), caught the end of the race briefing - opps, but did hear something about a low lying hill. My plan was to see how close I could be to a sub 50. Hooter went off & I found myself a going a little fast but ok, soon enough we had done the smaller loop and out into the country roads, Even by the 1.5M point I felt I was in a good group.
Just before the 2M point we turned the corner & almost straight up, then the road levelled off & the pace was back to normal, however about a mile later the course starting to reveal it`s dark side....and I wouldn`t describe it as `rolling hills and tranquil beauty ` - it was thigh burning, eye popping, energy sapping incline, followed by another turn and another incline this time even longer & straighter. I walked, I ran, I could see my time disappearing. - a 9:15/m flashed up, I walked, I ran I got to the top, I gasped a thank you at the marshal at the top for pointing us downwards. Despite the downhill & overtaking loads the group had gone (9:22 came up - the damage was done).
From here it was a straight, flat back home - at least it was under tree cover. Several runners were walking at this stage - unsure if they run completely up the hills or not - but I had done my walk, no more but my sub 50 min pace was all gone. Miles 4, 5 & 6 drifted into one but soon enough I could hear cheers & saw the `odd` runner who had finished walking back down the course. The finish was literally where the Test Way footpath popped out into the open. I ran through the finish - thanked the guys removing the chip tags & the medal hangers.I turned around and my Mum said `she had missed my finish` - I didn`t offer to run the course again (but there is always next year).
A little later Colin my cousin finished, and after we recovered we made our way to see the results & the prize giving..
Splits - 7:37, 7:53, 9:15, 9:22, 8:59, 9:01, 1:31 (0.18 @ 8:23/m)
Full Results - LINK
Nice event, great support from all the marshals, tough 10Km course (& I think the results show that).
Next up - this Sunday & after 4 years, a change to meeting up with friends under the footbridge by zone E & lining up with 50,000 or so other runners for the Great North Run I`ll be at Farnham Pilgrims Marathon - expecting a time for around 4:45 to 5:15 hrs.