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Pieces of Eight – Gavin Loader smashes another distance down at Southsea

My own personal challenge to run every race distance this year rolls on. I’d originally planned to run 5km through to an ultra-marathon picking off the usual distances along the way [8km, 10km, 10-miles, Half, etc.]. But, then, a good friend mentioned an 8-mile race in Southsea. Heck, why not I thought. It wasn’t planned, but sounded ‘different’.

Plus [and hopefully I’m not the only person guilty of doing this] I checked the previous year’s results and thought I was in with a good chance of making the top10 [the shame]!

Whilst perusing the results I did spot something rather important, the race’s full title is: ‘The Southsea Pirates, Pieces of Eight’ race. It seemed there was considerable risk that at least one person dressed as a pirate, parrot or gold doubloon might be toeing the line alongside me. I dressed appropriately in my usual black shorts and black vest, and let my stubble grow slightly longer [Captain Blackbeard, maybe?]

…. erm, I was wearing my SJ top in spirit!


Anyway, what can I say, this is a runner’s race. Don’t enter for the fun and atmosphere. There is NOTHING to see or do except run in a straight line alongside the coast, turn on a hairpin and return. There are no hills; there was no wind, no rain; no trees and, frankly, the pace was so quick I didn’t look up for the sea-view once. Given it was 0945 on a Sunday morning, there were few, if any, crowds either.

Here’s what made it fun, though. The race was blended with the Portsmouth RNLI 10k [same start and finish, but diversion mid-way] which means it was damn near impossible to know who the competition was. I loved this. I just decide the best option was to run flat-out, assume everyone was in my race and hope some people turned off at the appropriate poPieces of Eight Gavint. It made for a very fast pace. In fact, I ran 3.40, 3.52, 3.55, and 3.56 per km before the 10k runners left me. As they did leave, I realised the gap to the next runner in my race was now massive, so I had to follow up with 3.51, 3.50, 3.49 and 3.47 per km to close the gap. It was more fun than it sounds.

In the end, I finished in 49.21 [3.51/per km average], picked up a 10km PB on the way and, ‘Shiver my timbers’, I got my top10 finish [6th placed, actually]. If you’re coming for the fun and atmosphere maybe give it a swerve, but if you want a fast race and a PB, this is it!


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