The Donor Run: come and run in Birmingham to support organ donation

Like all bloggers, I receive loads of press releases. Although most are not directly relevant to my blog and get deleted, very occasionally a press release will grab my attention.

I was recently asked if I could promote an event I must confess I hadn’t heard of before; the Donor Run, which this year is taking place in Birmingham.

The Donor Run will form part of the 2018 Westfield Health British Transplant Games’ sporting programme which takes place in Birmingham from 2-5th August.

Westfield Health British Transplant Games North Lanarkshire 2017.

The Games are organised by charity Transplant Sport and will bring hundreds of transplant recipients together through sport to demonstrate the live-saving potential of organ donation.

Although most events at the Games are open only to transplant recipients, the Donor Run is open to everyone with the desire to raise maximum awareness for organ donation. The Donor Run takes place each year, and is open to all transplant recipients, donor families and the general public.

The Donor Run is set to bring transplant recipients together with their donors, family, friends and the general public with over 1300 participants already signed up to run either 3km or 5km on Saturday 4th August.

Organised by Transplant Sport, this year’s Donor Run is being supported by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. The run will take place on the University of Birmingham campus and will finish with a celebratory BBQ and Hog Roast for everyone.

More than 7,000 people in the UK are estimated to be waiting for an organ transplant, with three people dying each day while waiting to find a match.

James Neuberger, Chair of the British Transplant Games Local Organising Committee and Consultant Transplant Physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, wants as many people as possible to join the Donor Run and help raise awareness of organ donation.

He said: “The Donor Run is a fantastic opportunity for transplant recipients to celebrate their new lease of life with the people that helped them through a difficult time in their lives – family, friends and of course donors or their families.

“The Run has already been unbelievably popular this year but it’s not just for transplant recipients and their families. There is still plenty of time for people in and around Birmingham to join in the celebrations with some truly inspirational people. This is already going to be the biggest and best Transplant Games to date.”

The Donor Run will start at 6:30pm from The Vale, this year’s main accommodation area for the Games. Registration will be open from 5:30pm and costs £10 per person.

If I’m in Birmingham that weekend I’ll definitely be taking part in the Donor Run.

For more information or to sign up to the Donor Run, please visit or click.

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Enter a 2018 MoRun and awaken your inner MoRunner

Early bird entries into a race I volunteered at in 2016 and 2017 – the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park, Birmingham – opened at the beginning of the month.  While I really enjoyed volunteering, I experienced some serious race and medal envy. I’m looking forward to running the 10k this November, and earning myself a unique MoRunning medal.

TeamMiltonKeynes

Taking part in the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park also means that I’ll be supporting and raising awareness of an amazing charity; the Movember Foundation.

What is the Movember Foundation?

MoRunning supports The Movember Foundation – the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, all year round. The Movember Foundation addresses some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation knows what works for men, and how to find and to find the most innovative research to have an impact both globally and locally. The Foundation is independent of government funding, so it can challenge the status quo and invest faster in what works. In 13 years the Foundation has funded more than 1200 men’s health projects around the world.

The Movember Foundation has one goal; to stop men dying too young.

Take part in a MoRunning event this year

 2018 is going to be a massive year for MoRunning!

With 22 confirmed locations to date, Mini MoRuns for a second year and the addition of virtual MoRunning, there will be an incredible month of MoRuns across the UK and Ireland. There’s sure to be a race near you.

MORunVisual1-B

November 3rd

  • The Leeds 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Temple Newsam – 09:30am
  • The Aberdeen 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Hazlehead Park – 09:30am

November 4th

  • The Perth 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – North Inch – 09:30am
  • The Newcastle 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Exhibition Park – 01:30pm

November 10th

  • The Brighton & Hove 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Western Lawns – 09:30am
  • The Edinburgh 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Holyrood Park – 09:30am
  • The Cardiff 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Bute Park – 09:30am

November 11th

  • The Bristol 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Ashton Court – 10:30am
  • The London Battersea Park 5k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Battersea Park – 10:30am
  • The Glasgow 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Glasgow Green – 10:30am

November 17th

  • The Liverpool 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Croxteth Park – 09:30am
  • The Exeter 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Exeter – 09:30am
  • The Birmingham 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Sutton Park – 09:30am

November 18th

  • The Southampton 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Southampton Common – 09:30am
  • The Manchester 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Heaton Park – 09:30am
  • The Nottingham 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Wollaton Park – 09:30am
  • The Milton Keynes 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Campbell Park – 09:30am

November 24th

  • The Dublin 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Phoenix Park- 09:30am
  • The Ipswich 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Chantry Park – 09:30am

November 25th

  • The Whitstable 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Whitstable – 09:30am
  • The London Greenwich Park 10k and 1.5k kids MoRun – Greenwich Park – 09:30am
  • The Belfast 5k, 10k and kids 1.5k MoRun – Stormont Park- 09:30am

Virtual Race November 1st to November 29th

This year there is also the option of taking part in a Virtual Race. Be part of MoRunning 2018 and take part in virtual 5k, 10k or kids 1.5k MoRun.

You can find out everything you need to know about the 2018 series of MoRuns here.

MoRunning 2018 Pricing

  • 5k (Early bird) – £16.00
  • 5k (Standard) – £18.00
  • 5k (On the Day) – £20.00
  • 10k (Early bird) – £19.00
  • 10k (Standard) – £22.00
  • 10k (On the Day) – £25.00
  • Mini MoRun (Standard) – £10.00*
  • Virtual MoRunning – £12 (runners receive a medal and headband on completion)

*Mini MoRun entry price includes Mini MoRunning technical t-shirt.

MoRunners Receive

  • Training plans and support from The Running Bug
  • Race chip timing and instant race results
  • MoRunning medal
  • Legend and Superhero medals for best fancy dress and legends of MoRunning
  • Discount for groups of four or more of 10% (Find out more about how to register a team)
  • MoRunning Headband
  • Yellow Winners Jersey for 1st male and female in the 5k and 10k events as well as a Champion medal and free entry to 2019
  • Professional photos to view and purchase
  • 15% discount voucher code for online purchases from Up and Running

 Mini MoRunners* Receive

  • Free super cool Mini Mo T-Shirt
  • MoRunning headband
  • Mo Medal
  • Yazoo Drink
  • Loads of high fives

* Please note that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure children are able to run the Mini MoRun unaccompanied. If required, one parent can run with Mini MoRunners free of charge.

So run hard, run fast, have fun and enjoy being part of something special.

2016-Leeds-Stormtrooper

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself, but I’m already looking forward to taking part in my local MoRun in November. I’ve already talked a couple of my running friends into entering; it would be awesome to meet some of you there.

Could you run a 5k or 10k for The Movember Foundation?

For loads more information and to sign up please click here.

For more information about the Movember Foundation please click here.

The Movember Foundation is a Registered Charity No.1137948 (England/Wales) SC041981 (Scotland)

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with MoRunning** 

Running goals for 2018: Progress report

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. As it’s now the beginning of July, I’ve decided to write a halfway(ish) through the year progress report on my 2018 running goals.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – at the beginning of the year, I highlighted this as my main running related goal of the year.

Thanks to the amazing support of my friends, family and the online running community I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. I’ve now switched my attention to raising £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Fundraising is going quite well and I’m in the process of organising a couple of events at work.

Run 1000 km – I entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and was monitoring my progress online.

Thanks to a couple of niggles, I fear that this may well turn out to be one goal I fail to achieve. I ran 63km in January, 74km in February, 61km in March, 58km In April, 79km in May and 55km in June.

 I think it’s safe to say that at the moment, I’m a long, long way behind my target.

Complete 10 races – back in January, I was “quietly confident” I’d complete 10 races in 2018 and earn myself a few more running medals in the process.

Thanks to a badly timed dose of the lurgy and a race cancellation due to the ‘Beat from the East’ I’ve only managed to complete four races; the Cathedral to Castle Run, the Wallingford Thames Run 10k, the Great Midlands Fun Run and the Aldridge 10k. My Race Calendar looks quite full, so I’m confident that injury permitting, I’ll manage to complete another six races this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – After falling out of love with parkrun last year, I also set myself the target of completing 10 parkruns in 2018.

parkrun 2018 montage

I’m pleased to report that this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. So far I’ve completed eight parkruns, and as an added bonus, I’ve completed every one in under 30 minutes. I just need to learn how to push myself out of my comfort zone.

A sub 8 minute mile – I identified that my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012 and wanted to lower my mile PB at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

I didn’t travel down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile so I’m yet to attempt to lower my mile PB.

A sub 25 minute 5k – I knew that I’d find running 5k in under 25 minutes “incredibly challenging” but I was determined to give it a go.

Although all of my parkruns have been completed in under 30 minutes, I’m yet to get anywhere near the elusive 25 minute barrier. I’ve just looked at my parkrun results and the nearest I’ve got is 27:10. I think it’s safe to say this is another running goal I may well fail to achieve.

A sub 55 minute 10k – when I shared my running goals at the start of the year, I suspected I’d find running 10k in under 55 minutes virtually impossible, but entered the Vitality London 10,000 so that I had a flat and fast target event.

After a couple of slightly disappointing 10k races, I think I’m going to have to be realistic and will adjust this running goal to running 10k in under 60 minutes.  

A sub 2:20 half marathon – at the beginning in the year my running mojo had returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March was going quite well.

Unfortunately, a work colleague very kindly shared her cough and cold with me and I didn’t travel to Cambridge. A couple of weeks later, I completed the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon with my running buddy Ellen in 2:27:32.

IMG_1028

Earlier this year, I discovered that I had ‘won’ a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon and *fingers crossed* will run the 13.1 miles in a slightly more respectable time.

Listen to my niggles – as I’m such an injury-prone runner, I was determined to continue to listen to and to closely monitor my niggles.

Although I’ve already had a couple of niggles, I’ve been sensible and haven’t attempted to run through my injuries this year. Hopefully, *touch wood etc* this slightly more sensible approach will enable me to enjoy another six months of injury-free running.  

Make friends with strength and conditioning – I identified this as an area I’d neglected in the past. I was going to join the gym near my office and to “make friends” with strength and conditioning.

I think it’s safe to say that this is an area I still need to work on! After a bit of research, I decided not to join the gym near my office and have yet to make friends with strength and conditioning.  

Be slightly more sociable – after setting this as a running goal last year and failing miserably, I decided to set myself the same goal again.

I’m pleased to report that I have been what I call slightly more sociable. I’ve made more effort to talk to people before and after parkrun and now feel like a member of my local parkrun community. I’ve attended a few training sessions with Run Wallingford and have enjoyed (sort of) being pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve also made a couple of awesome running friends. Thanks for all of your amazing support Ellen!  

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – after “smashing” this running goal in 2017, I decided to set myself the same goal.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not doing very well at not buying unessential running gear. While I can probably class the replacement Garmin and new trainers as essential running gear, I didn’t *need* the Lululemon skort and vest I bought last week. Unfortunately, the Lululemon sale was too good to ignore!  

Oh well, sometimes it’s good to fail…

How are you progressing with your running goals for 2018?

Do you adjust goals if you know they are too challenging?

Race Report: Aldridge 10k

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. This blog is a day late because I was actually at work yesterday. Shocking behaviour after an incredibly hectic weekend.

Some of you know I set myself the challenge of running completing 10 races this year. On Sunday I completed my fourth race –the Aldridge 10k.

So what did I think of the Aldridge 10k? Would I run it again? Would I recommend the race to other runners?

As always, I checked the weather forecast quite a few times. The forecast for Sunday was 23°c and sunny, typical. However, first thing on Sunday morning the weather was perfect; cool and dry with a refreshing breeze. The cool conditions unfortunately didn’t last. Ellen very kindly collected me at 09:30 and drove us the short distance to Aldridge. We found somewhere to park and walked the short distance to the race HQ, the local cricket club to collect our numbers.

I found race HQ a touch confusing. The signs weren’t very clear and it took us a couple of attempts to work out where we had to go to collect our numbers. Numbers finally collected and attached – there were a lot of safety pins – we decided to find out where the 10k race would start from. We found the 5k muster point, an impressive selection of trophies and the finish line. Virtually everything but the start of the 10k race.

The next challenge was finding somewhere for a pre-race pee. The queues for the portaloos were quite long so we checked out the cricket club’s Clubhouse. Bingo! Real toilets with a small queue. Toilet stop done and dusted, as it was still quite chilly we completed a pre-race warm-up. Ellen met up with some of her running club friends and organised some ‘before’ photos. We then squeezed in a second pre-race pee and then followed a sea of runners towards the mystery start location.

I’ve included one of the official race photos because I can just about make out my black cap in the distance.

Aldridge start

[Photo: Brian Smith]

The sun made an unwelcome appearance just before the race started at 11:00. One minute it was nice and cool, the next minute it was hot and sunny. I regretted wearing black.

At the start Aldridge

The first mile was hot and if I’m being honest rather uninspiring as it took us alone the main Walsall Road until we turned left at a pub and onto the amusingly named Bosty Lane. I’d describe the second mile as undulating and dull.

Youtube 3

[Source: James Cruze]

This section of the course was made more challenging as we had to run on the pavements as the roads hadn’t been closed. I was a little frustrated because I enter road races to run on the road, not on uneven pavements with niggle inducing dropped kerbs.

Mile three was also undulating. I wanted to walk but just about managed to carry on running. The highlights of mile four were the hoses and the sponge and drinks stations.

As I still haven’t quite mastered the art of running and drinking at the same time, I walked through the drinks station. I was a little disappointed to be handed a small plastic cup with hardly any water in it. A bottle would have been welcome on such a warm day! We spotted a camera, waved and continued on our way.

Youtube 1

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

Youtube 2

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

The penultimate mile was quite tricky because my fragile right knee didn’t appreciate the rather steep hill section. The half a mile down hill away from the centre of Aldridge and the start of the race worried me because I knew it meant the final part of the race would be incredibly challenging.

I’m ashamed to report that I gave into the heat, my dodgy right knee and my lack of mental toughness and walked quite a large section of the final mile. I’m afraid that the inspirational quotes someone had chalked onto the road did very little to inspire this hot and grumpy runner.

Aldridge Mile 5 and 6

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

A few runners had warmed me about the “nightmare hill” between miles five and six. As a result I gave the hill far, far too much respect. Miles one to five had been completed at 09:xx min/mile pace; it took me over 11 minutes to complete mile six. The final part of the race was mentally tough as we had a couple of loops around a field.

I crossed the line in 01:01:45, collected my medal, goody bag and t-shirt -the Wolves colour was an added bonus – and found Ellen who’d finished before me.

Aldridge medal

We spent a bit of time recovering and then dug out our beer tokens and joined the queue for the free post-race half pint of beer. Beer successfully collected, we spent an enjoyable 15 minutes chilling out, discussing the race and drinking our beer. I couldn’t stay too long as I had to get ready for the journey back down to Wallingford.

Although my own race performance was a little disappointing, Ellen ran a seriously impressive time. I’m really enjoying watching her get faster and faster. The race was well organised and incredibly well supported. I received my official time via text the second I crossed the finish line and the first set of event photographs were available to download for free the same day as the race. It’s just a shame the photographer didn’t stay to take photos of everyone finishing…

This race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop writing and leave you with a selection of Strava stats. I think it’s pretty obvious where I struggled.

If any more photos make an appearance online I’ll add them to this post.

So would I recommend the Aldridge 10k? Possibly, but I’d also recommend runners carry their own water with them if it’s a hot day. Advice I should follow myself.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 9/10 – £13.75 (the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
  • Course: 8/10
  • Medal: 6/10
  • Race t-shirt: 9/10
  • Goody Bag: 8/10 (I loved the race number magnet thingys)

Do you ever wonder what happens to all the photos people take of runners during races? Loads of random people were taking photos on Sunday; they never seem to appear online. Strange!

Have you ever managed to dodge all the official race photographers? I’m starting to think that although I’m tall I’m also invisible.

Do you think 11:00 is too late to start a race? I much prefer an earlier start time as it’s cooler and the roads are less congested.

A parkrun, some sun, a fun run and a BBQ

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. I booked Monday off work so I’m enjoying another extra long weekend.

Most of you will know my Friday afternoon routine now. I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. I spent what was left of the evening getting all my washing done, catching up on a couple of my favourite TV programmes and eating unhealthy food.

I woke up well before my alarm on Saturday which was a little bit frustrating as I wanted a lie in. I hadn’t originally planned to head to parkrun but when my friend offered to drive me I felt that I couldn’t say no.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy parkrun very much and kind of wish that I’d stayed in bed. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace, struggled in the humid conditions and seriously considered dropping out after the second lap.

Parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I gave myself a serious talking to, completed the final lap and finished in 28:14, a time I would have been over the moon with a year ago.

The short walk back to the car park felt like a marathon and I don’t think I’ve ever ended a 5k run with such a red face. The camera really doesn’t lie; sometimes I wish that it did!

Emma the beetroot

I also don’t think I’ve been so relieved to sit down for a couple of minutes after a run. I felt so nauseous, there was no way I was risking getting straight back into a boiling hot car.

A well placed bench

I’ve no idea why but I felt quite peaky for a few hours after parkrun and had zero appetite, definitely most unlike me and not ideal the day before a challenging 8.5 mile run.

Fortunately, a quick afternoon nap seemed to do the trick and I woke up feeling reasonably ‘normal’ again. As parkrun had left me feeling slightly dehydrated and I had a headache, I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange flavoured Nuun.

The rest of my Saturday was quiet and relaxing, just what I needed. I made sure that I drank loads of water, avoided the local Chinese takeaway and the local weather forecasts. I went to bed at the not so rock and roll time of 22:00.

A combination of bright sunlight, heat and noisy birds woke me far too bright and early on Sunday morning. Not ideal when I desperately wanted a lie in. The fun run didn’t start until the incredibly late time of 11:00 so I had almost too much time to faff around before I set off on the short walk to the local train station.

My running buddy Ellen spotted me walking to the train station and kindly gave me a lift. We met up with Ellen’s friend Ruth and arrived in the centre of Sutton Coldfield with plenty of time for a couple of pre-race toilet visits. We entered the start area at 10:30 and spent the next 45 minutes or so getting hotter and hotter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to watch the sun disappear behind some clouds.

GMFR 2018 start

Nervous at the start

The run started and it was so crowded it took me almost a mile to get into my stride. I don’t enjoy running in hot weather and felt incredibly nauseous so decided to slow down. Somewhere between the first and second mile I noticed that my Garmin had switched itself off, not ideal but I managed to get it working again. To make matters worse my dodgy right calf started to hurt, a lot. We entered Sutton Park, I stopped at a drinks station to grab myself some water and never really got going again.

I told Ellen and Ruth to run on without me and walked for a couple of minutes to assess my calf. Walking didn’t help and I decided to switch my focus from getting a decent time to having a good time.

I power walked up the numerous uphill sections and ran very slowly down the downhill sections. I soaked up the atmosphere as I ran through the centre of Sutton Park near Town Gate and stopped for a quick chat with a teacher I hadn’t seen for several years.

Cardiac Hill

I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill and spotted Matt in the distance dressed as an Oompa Loompa. I caught up with Matt and we successfully negotiated Cardiac Hill together. We reached the top, grabbed some much needed water and headed back towards the centre of Sutton Coldfield and the finish.

Miles three to six of the run were shockingly slow and I was embarrassed when I looked at the stats on Strava. The final couple of miles were slightly more respectable – probably because they were more runner friendly i.e. down hill – and I had plenty left in the tank to sprint to the finish line.

I crossed the line, collected a medal from an old school friend, grabbed some water and then spent 15 minutes trying to track down Ellen and Ruth. We were eventually reunited at the train station.

GMFR 2018 medal

I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, drinking beer and enjoying my first BBQ for years. The perfect way to take my mind off a somewhat disappointing Great Midlands Fun Run. Next year, I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of the barriers enjoying a pint of beer and supporting the runners.

My next race is the Aldridge 10k on Sunday. I’ve literally got everything crossed that the weather is a little kinder; I’ve had enough of running in the heat.

Do you enjoy running in the sun? If it’s boiling hot on Sunday I suspect the Aldridge 10k will be a DNS as it doesn’t start until 11:00.

Do you have any sun cream recommendations? The P20 I wore smelt terrible and wasn’t very effective.

Race Report: Wallingford Thames Run

Happy Wednesday, the long weekend is rapidly approaching. If you don’t enjoy reading rather lengthy race reviews then I’d recommend you stop reading. I promise I won’t be offended.

Some of you know I set myself the challenge of completing 10 races in 2018.  On Sunday I completed my second race – the Wallingford Thames Run. I’ve clearly got a bit of catching up to do.Group photo

[Photo: Run Wallingford]

So what did I think of the Wallingford Thames Run? Would I run it again? Would I recommend the race to other runners?

Entry was straightforward. I headed to the race entry page, filled in my details and paid my entry fee of £15. The only minor irritation was discovering that numbers would have to be collected on the morning of the race. I much prefer having numbers posted to me and am more than happy to pay extra for the privilege.

The weather on Sunday was perfect – almost a little too perfect – and I decided to forget about times and to enjoy what was a completely new to me event.

Registration was simple and it took me a matter of seconds to collect my number and some safety pins. I then proceeded to spend 10 minutes struggling to pin my race number onto my t-shirt without stabbing myself. Number safely attached, I decided to locate the toilets while it was still reasonably quiet. I’m not sure if the queues got longer later on but I didn’t have to queue for any of my pre-race nervous toilet visits.

The race HQ was a local primary school. Thanks to some excellent planning, the race coincided with the annual Summer Fete. This meant that there were several stands to keep me occupied. The only downside was having to ignore the aroma of sausage and burgers. I doubt that even my hardcore stomach could cope with a sausage sarnie 30 minutes before a 10k.

I met up with some of the members of the local running group – most were volunteering – posed for a group photo and then headed towards the start area for a warm-up. By this stage it was really warm so I decided to watch everyone else leaping around.

Warmup

Warm-up completed, we shuffled closer to the start, listened to some announcements and then the race started.

It took me a minute to cross the start line.

It took me a couple of minutes of being overtaken by speedy runners to realise the 5k runners had started at the same time as the 10k runners. I stopped worrying about how fast other people were running and started to enjoy the rather epic scenery. The race followed a section of my not so enjoyable run on Wednesday evening run and into a much needed shaded section. A few runners were complaining about the congestion through this section, I shut out the moaning and focused on attention on the surface which was a touch ‘bumpy’ in places. I smiled grimaced for the race photographer and rather reluctantly left the shaded section behind.

Lap 1

[Photo: Barry Cornelius]

The next section of the course was a little uninspiring and involved running alongside the A4130 for a couple of minutes, a steep downhill back towards the river and a slightly speed-sapping 360 degree turn. Tricky turn completed, we ran next to the River Thames before heading into the centre of Wallingford.

I’m not sure why I’d assumed the race took place on closed roads because it didn’t. For several frustrating seconds I found myself trapped behind an elderly pedestrian I couldn’t overtake so I used the unexpected walking break to catch my breath. We left the centre of Wallingford behind and ran across the bridge back towards the start of the 5k route.

Seeing loads of runners finish when I had another 5k to go was a tad demoralising. I stopped at the water station, made sure that I actually drank some water and headed out on the second lap.

The hazards of running in the countryside were highlighted when I had to slow to a walk to give way to someone driving a tractor. I found ‘tractorgate’ quite amusing, other runners didn’t. I ran past the location of the race photographer on the first lap – he’d moved – and back towards the River Thames.

I was really struggling by this stage so wasn’t exactly thrilled when I spotted the race photographer in the distance. By this stage there were hardly any other runners around me so I had no one to hide behind. I smiled and thanked the photographer and carried on running.Lap 2 1

Lap 2 2

[Photos: Barry Cornelius]

On the first lap I got stuck behind a pedestrian, on the second lap a group of us spent what felt like forever waiting for the opportunity to cross the main road.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relieved to reach the end of a 10k. I crossed the line and headed straight to the water table. I was impressed when I discovered that the Wallingford Thames Run was a plastic free event and I was handed a plastic cup of water. I guess starting and finishing a race at a primary school does have some perks.

Medal

I was handed a medal and headed towards another major perk – the bar – and treated myself to a pint of cold and refreshing beer.

Pint pose

I found myself somewhere to sit in the shade and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes people watching and relaxing. Recovery (and pint) complete, I walked the mile or so back to my shared house, had a shower, got dressed and had a Sunday snooze.

Although my own race performance was a little below par, the Wallingford Thames Run was incredibly well organised from start to finish. Event photographs were available to download for free a couple of hours after the race and the official results were published in the evening.

As always, this race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop waffling and leave you with a selection of Strava stats from the race.

So would I recommend the Wallingford Thames Run? Let’s just say I’m a little disappointed I won’t be around to improve my time next year.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 10/10 – £15 (I think! All profits went to charity and the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
  • Course: 8/10
  • Medal: 5/10
  • Race t-shirt: n/a
  • Goody Bag: n/a

What is the strangest thing you’ve had to ‘give way’ to during a race? I can honestly say I didn’t think I’d ever be held up by a tractor.

Do you think race organisers should do more to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is produced during races?

A challenging run and a weekend in Wallingford

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. The weather in Wallingford was almost too perfect.

Before I recap the weekend I’ll rewind to last Wednesday. After a rather challenging day in the office, I decided to join up with the local running group after work. I discovered that my options were limited to either a one mile or a five mile run. As I didn’t see any point in paying £1 to run a mile, I decided to join up with the five mile group.

We headed straight out on our run without warming-up – not ideal as my Garmin didn’t record anything for the first five minutes – and headed along a slightly overgrown track. We crossed a main road, ran down a path and ended up running through a random field. As a newcomer to Wallingford; I genuinely had no idea where we were.Wednesday runI checked my Garmin and saw that we were running at 9:xx min/mile pace. So much for a relaxing and enjoyable five mile run after work.

We ran along past Benson Lock and across a rather springy bridge, past some seriously posh houses and cottages and onto a main road. I was still completely lost and was starting to struggle to keep up with the rest of the group.

It was a case of keep up or potentially get lost. I kept up.

After a couple of miles we ran past my office and I finally knew where I was. We reached the end of the road, turned left and started to run away from the centre of Wallingford. Miles three to four are a complete blur. The three ladies I’d been following headed further into the distance and I was left on my own.

The pace increased even more as we ran across Wallingford Bridge and back into the centre of the town. We ran through the town, past the fish and chip shop, through Bull Croft Park and back to where we started.

The rest of the group looked like they’d been out for a Sunday stroll; I could hardly breathe and had to sit down for a couple of minutes. It was more than a little embarrassing. I slept well that night.

On Friday afternoon, I headed to the Boat House straight after work with a colleague. I’m not sure drinking three pints of reasonably strong beer was that sensible, but after tweaking my right knee on Wednesday, I’d already decided not to head to Didcot parkrun.The Boat HouseAlthough not heading home straight after work felt a little strange, I really enjoyed chilling out next to the river. I’m such a lightweight, however, I don’t think I’d ever make drinking after work part of my Friday routine. I enjoy parkrun far too much.

Predictably, my head felt quite fuzzy when I woke up on Saturday morning. I made myself a much needed cup of tea and headed back to bed for a snooze. Unfortunately, one of my housemates seemed to be determined to make as much noise as possible so I decided to get up.

I spent what I suspect will be the only Saturday I spend in Wallingford applying for jobs, lying on my bed relaxing, dozing and reading a book. I only left my room a couple of times and did an awesome impression of a hermit. Not the most productive or sociable of days but after a pretty full on week, I needed to spend some time on my own.

I ate a reasonably healthy meal, checked the weather forecast for the millionth time, laid out my running gear, set my alarm for 06:00 and watched some of the Night of the 10000m PB’s online. Next year I’ll make sure I travel down to London as the atmosphere looked amazing.

BBC weather

I was woken up at 06:30 on Sunday morning by what sounded like a couple of dog walkers having a heated argument about an out of control dog. So much for a lie in. I dragged myself out of bed, had a shower and got changed into some running gear. I then popped downstairs to make myself my usual pre-race cup of tea. Well that was the plan. Unfortunately, when I got in the kitchen I discovered that the kettle was missing. Have I mentioned before just how hard I’m finding it living in shared house.

I packed everything I thought I’d need in my running bag and walked the mile or so to the HQ of the Wallingford Thames Run – a local primary school. As I’m going to review the race in another post I won’t go into detail but it was hot, challenging underfoot, friendly, and slow.

Wallingford 10k

I walked back home, had a much needed second shower of the day and walked the short distance to meet up with another colleague for lunch. It was so nice to spend some time in a ‘normal’ house with luxuries such as a kettle and an incredibly well maintained garden.

The rest of my Sunday was spent napping, writing, catching up on emails, and generally chilling out. Although I don’t think I’ll be spending too many weekends in Wallingford, my first weekend was enjoyable. The only thing missing was a BBQ.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you find running in the warm weather challenging?