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 point. 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!