Four weeks, three 10kms…
The 10km challenge continues and over the last four weeks we have completed three. The first; the I Love Welwyn on 11th February. The second; the Winchester on the 25th The third; the Milton Keynes on March 11th. They were very different and each had its own characteristics.
Welwyn was a very chatty run with lots of clubs and many 10k first timers taking part. It started in Stanborough park, and then went out into the local residential area for two loops, (with plenty of opportunity to admire people’s gardens!) before returning to the park where we had to run around the lake, avoiding families out for their Sunday stroll with dogs, toddlers and pushchairs, before running over a narrow bridge to the finish. There were no closed roads but lots of very friendly marshals who kept us on the right track. Of the three runs this was the least hilly but they were still there – mainly long rather than steep.
The Winchester 10k on the other hand was hilly. It started on a hill and each hill was higher than the last which, of course, gives you some really good downhill running, especially the last kilometre down to the finish. It is my favourite finish of all the 10kms that I have done. The event started outside of the Guildhall right next to King Alfred’s statue and took us through the city centre out towards King’s Worthy before returning to finish at the football ground. This event was well organised and even though the start and finish were in different places the bag drop worked efficiently, thanks to the army cadets, with our belongings ready and waiting next to the refreshments at the end. There is ample free parking in Winchester early on a Sunday morning and the start is easy to find – it is trying to find your car afterwards that is tricky! Most of the roads were closed or well marshalled.
This was also the case at the final event of the three which started outside of Escape in Milton Keynes and took us out along one of the many dual carriageways which criss cross this city. I think that this was probably one of the few events that I have experienced which has been practically flat for the first 7 kilometres and then punishes you with a 2.5+km climb almost to the finish. As I was running I thought that I might at last get a 10k PB but I obviously had not looked at the course map carefully enough and the end came as a bit of a shock especially as when I turned a corner I could see the string of runners in front of me as they ascended the hill in Campbell Park. This 10km was one of the events at the Festival of Running which also included 5km, half marathon and 20 mile events. This made me think it would be really busy but it was surprisingly quiet, perhaps because there were staggered starts so people didn’t all have to be there at the same time. Again, there was lots of parking around and about although you had to pay in the car parks. One very positive aspect was that there was a very large number of toilets and no real queues. A definite plus.
All three events had good parking, secure bag drops, interesting medals, and bottles of water at the finish. I would run all three of them again but ideally I would like Milton Keynes’ first 7km, Welwyn’s lake and Winchester’s finish. Then, surely I could get a PB!