While most members of Leighton Buzzard AC were battling the effects of a heavy night in Nottingham (I mean the Nationals), myself, Glen Turner and Adam Haylock were battling a 25 mile-per-hour breeze in my home town run – the Winslow 10k in North Bucks.
Having been born and bred in Winslow, and never having run the local 10k since it began back in 2009, I decided this was the year. The race is organised by the Winslow Lions Club and is one of the their biggest fundraising events. The other big event is the Winslow Beer Festival, which I have been a consistent competitor in for many years!
The Winslow 10k is exactly the kind of 10k race that we should be supporting. The £10 entry fee is a bargain, the organisation is flawless, the army of volunteers are helpful and enthusiastic, and the cub scouts who manned the two water stations and shouted support in the freezing wind and rain were little heroes. And, there were plenty of loos at the race HQ!
The last 10k I ran was Wooburn Park in 2012 when I ran my PB of 58:21. My running has come a long way since then, so I was hoping to take a chunk off that time in my home town race.
The race starts at Furze Down School in Winslow, heads west to Verney Junction, up to East Claydon and then back to Winslow on the Granborough Road. It’s run completely on quiet country lanes and is pretty much traffic free – apart from one 4×4 driver who held his horn down the whole way past, and was booed by runners, and cub scouts, alike.
Just after 10:30, 319 runners stormed along the opening 1km downhill stretch. The wind was howling but the rain had stopped, and I quickly settled into a good stride.
It’s a hard event to get your pacing right because no section is flat, and the wind made it even more difficult. After the first 1km descent, the course rises continuously for the next 4.5km, through the villages of Verney Junction, Sandhill and East Claydon. This uphill stretch was also into the wind, so I tried to push hard for the first half but still save something for later in the race.
The support on the course from the marshals (the majority being neighbours of my parents!) and the cub scouts were incredible – not only did they put the aforementioned driver in his place, they also cheered and high fived every runner. After passing through half way in 26 minutes and putting the long ascent behind me, I enjoyed turning for home and picking up a long downhill, downwind stretch.
However, this race has a sting in the tail, and a bit of local knowledge always comes in handy. The final kilometre is a steep uphill drag back Winslow, so you need to have something left in the tank. I felt really strong going into the hill, and the hill reps I’ve been doing in training, as well as a very muddy season of cross country, really paid off! I overtook lots of people on the hill, and turned into the school to cross the line in a new PB of 52:13. My first 5k and second 5k were almost identical times, so I knew I had paced it well.
It was also a good day for Leighton Buzzard AC all round. Further ahead, Adam finished 11th in 38:12 and Glen won the race in 34:35.
However, the best part of the race is the smörgåsbord of food at the end, with bacon butties, hot chocolates, coffees and homemade cakes lining the perimeter of the school hall. We stayed around to eat, chat to friends and see the presentation, and then it was back to my parent’s house for a well-earned lasagne and lazy Sunday afternoon cuddles with my six week old nephew Oliver – all with that cheeky feeling of smugness thanks to a PB in my home town race. And we were pleased to hear that the Lions Club raised more than £2000, which will surely pay for a stack of beer barrels for next month’s beer festival.
If anyone fancies this race in the future, or the annual beer festival for that matter, here is the Lions Club website. I can highly recommend them both!