That’s it, it’s all over!
On Sunday, I successfully completed the tenth and final race of my challenge for 2018, when I ran the Wilmslow ‘Festive’ 10k. To say I am pleased that it’s all over would be an understatement, but at the time of writing this week’s entry my Just Giving page stands at £1,465, which is phenomenal. To put that figure into perspective, it means an additional 146 hours of research into childhood cancer, which makes every painful stride worthwhile, and I am very grateful to those who have donated.
Over the course of the year, I have seen two races cancelled at the last minute (including my inaugural race at Kidsgrove in January, which was cancelled – due to snow and ice -with me stood at the start line raring to go); I have have battled injuries to my hip, knee and foot; I have tripped and fallen in training, suffering a gash to my right arm and leg; and I’ve been hospitalised with a suspected heart attack (which, thankfully, it wasn’t), when I collapsed barely twenty feet from the finish line at the Whitchurch 10k in April.
In short, it hasn’t been easy.
Which sounds pretty pathetic really, as a lot of proper runners will see 10k as nothing, a brief jog and nothing more – but to me it’s my limit. I can’t imagine I will ever attempt a half marathon, and certainly never a full marathon, so I am in absolute awe of anyone who does.
Anyway, for the final time, here are my scores for the Wilmslow 10k:
Time: 47:08 (my second fastest time of the entire challenge, and whilst it was a shame to miss out on a PB in my final race by just 21 seconds, I shouldn’t complain too much, when I was struggling to meet my sub-50 minutes target just a few months ago.
Position: 723rd (out of 3,291)
Cost: I think this race is ordinarily around £19, but since I got a special offer to enter both the Wilmslow and Alderley Edge events for the bargain price of £29, they were essentially £14.50 each.
Course: The course itself was largely ok, save for the giant hill between 8 and 9k, and the fact that the organisers moved the finish line this year to ease congestion in the town centre and allow more of a finish ‘strait’.
Unfortunately, this meant the finish line was over a mile from the start, and on a country lane, which not only meant spectators fighting to get a place on one of the four buses the organisers put on (which thankfully my wife and kids did), but the finish line was very overcrowded. Oh, and then the runners had a choice of fighting to get one of the buses back, or face an extra mile-and-a-half to their car.
I think, on balance, I would have preferred the old route, whether it had a finish strait or not.
That said, apart from the one big hill towards the end, the course was mostly flat, on good condition roads – which, unlike at Arley Hall, remained fully closed throughout – and was packed with enthusiastic spectators cheering us on. I even high-fived some kids on the final stretch, such was my euphoria at this bastard challenge being nearly over.
Each kilometre was clearly marked, and it was well marshaled throughout. Shame that moving the finish line has cost Wilmslow points, really – 7/10
Weather: Cold, but not quite as cold as the Oulton Park race in February, and certainly not as cold as Kidsgrove would have been, had it taken place. A little bit of rain, but not enough to put me off. Could have been worse – 7/10
Organisation: The organisation was very efficient, as I have come to expect from RunNorthWest, with a detailed pre-race pack sent through a couple of weeks in advance. The numbers were also posted out early, so there was no need for me to even visit ‘Race HQ’ on the day. They did advise against wearing headphones, but there was no way I was running my last race without music, and to be fair none of the marshals ever challenged me.
The results were online very quickly the same day, and I even got a text from ‘Nifty Timing’ the instant I crossed the line, so I knew my time, position, and wear I had finished in my category (middle-aged men who are shit at running, or something to that effect).
Wilmslow is, however, let down by the fact the start line in the town centre was so crowded, with no organisation of runners based on their ability/expectations, that the result was faster runners who wanted to get near the start were clambering over the barriers among the spectators, and this led to Ollie nearly taking a running shoe to the face.
Shame, really, otherwise this race would have scored highly – 7/10
Official Photos: Yet again, Mick Hall was the chosen race photographer, and I have to say he is very efficient, uploading thousands of photographs the next day.
Unfortunately, with over three thousand runners to snap, it would be fair to say he didn’t exactly capture my best side:
So that’s one beheading, one with my eyes shut (I’ll share some of the blame for that), and one where the bint next to me has nicked my ‘race number ten’ pose. She’s either getting in on the action, or mocking me, but either way she can fuck right off. I might even cut her out of that one.
There. Much better (and it even emphasises the pretty rainbow behind me).
Thankfully, my good lady wife grabbed a few good shots before and after the race, including a great photo of my sprint finish:
Still, Mick did his best, and they were all free to download – 8/10
Medal: Very nice indeed, and very distinctive. Good work, Wilmslow – 9/10
Goody-bag: For only the second time throughout the challenge (the other being at Colshaw Hall in Knutsford), the goody bag comprised an actual bag. This was filled with some sweets, a caramel flapjack, and some energy powder (which I think you are meant to add to water, but after the ‘birthday cake’ flavour powder at Oulton Park at the start of the year, I don’t think I’m brave enough to try it). No running shirt this time, though – 7/10
Post-race refreshment: Just a bottle of water, but that’s only because the other treats were in the bag, and the finish area was so cramped, they wouldn’t have been able to organise fruit and other treats really – 6/10
Which gives the Wilmslow ‘Festive’ 10k a total score of 51, meaning it is tied with it’s sister event, Alderley Edge.
So, without further ado, here is my final table:
Arley Hall 54/70 (77%)
Sandbach 53/70 (76%)
Colshaw Hall 52/70 (74%)
Alderley Edge 51/70 (73%)
Wilmslow 51/70 (73%)
Birchwood 49/70 (70%)
Whitchurch: 49/70 (70%)
Tatton Park: 47/70 (67%)
Oulton Park: 46/70 (66%)
Poynton: 39/70 (56%)
Arley Hall is therefore my favourite race of the ten (which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact it was my fastest race, and towards the end of the whole ordeal being nearly over).
That said, I did begin to wonder whether my scores were becoming more generous as the challenge went on, because I was getting fitter, my times were improving, and because I was less nervous before each race. However, when I look back over the final table now, I do genuinely feel that Arley Hall was my favourite race, and Poynton was a sack of shit, so apart from Birchwood being slightly lower than expected in hindsight, not to mention the fact Whitchurch is mid-table despite doing it’s level best to kill me, I think the scores are about right.
That’s it for my running now, at least for this year. I don’t imagine I will continue to take part in regular 10k events (although I may be persuaded to compete in the Sandbach race again next year, with it being so local), and I won’t be training anywhere near as hard, but gentle jogs around the town, and the odd Parkrun when I can, are by no means out of the question.
Anyway, I’m so glad it’s over, as I’m sure you are too (back to cheap knob gags next week, folks), and I would just like to thank everyone again for their support and donations throughout this daft challenge. I would like to especially thank my wife and kids, for coming along to every event to cheer me on (regardless of the weather conditions).
Best of all, look at all the new running shirts and shiny stuff I have gathered over the past ten months:
Finally, there is just enough time for one last push for donations, so if you could spare a few quid to help me hit £1,500, take a look at my Just Giving page:
Thanks for reading x