Friday, 4 July 2014

Race review : Samaritans 10k

For the past 33 years the Samaritans have held Samaritans runs as fundraising events for the charity. For the past 13 years Wellington College in Crowthorne has played host to these runs and finally, after 3 years of wanting to enter I took part in the 10k. I was keen to run this one because it's only about a mile and a half from my front door. Having seen some of the grounds when marshaling for the AXLR8 triathlon I knew this was going to be a rather lovely run as the route is two laps through the woodland around the college.
Course map
It's also incredibly good value. At £17 for the 10k and £14 for the 5k (under 16s can enter the 5k for £10) it certainly rivals some of the other local races in terms of value. You get chip timing, free parking and a lovely goody bag that includes a tech t-shirt as well as a medal. Spectators get to linger around the sports pavilion where rumour had it that there was masses of cake and vats of tea. There's no fundraising obligation and so I had no qualms about parting with a couple of quid to enter the raffle, especially when prizes included a huge TV, £200 cash and tickets to Go Ape. I didn't win. 
Goody bag contents
The day before the race I probably did everything that you shouldn't do. My friend Ryan was visiting for the weekend so we'd gone bouldering, eaten out at an Indian, consumed some amount of wine and stayed up until gone 1am. Thankfully the race didn't start until 10:30 and it took a mere 5 minutes to get there. Ryan graciously accepted the roles of designated-stuff-holder, cheerer and photographer and gave up a morning of lazing to stand in the sun waiting for me to finish. I bought him an ice cream and I gather there was some eye-candy so hopefully it wasn't too heavy a cross to bear.
The organisation was brilliant. Both races started at the same time and on time, about 400 runners in total. My next door neighbour also ran and I bumped into a lady I'd met on a baking course in Derby earlier in the year - I love that part of local races, seeing who's there that you recognise. All the marshals were lovely and cheery and did really well at filtering the runners in different directions according to their race distance. Despite the night before, the heat and my Garmin deciding to pack up (77% battery on leaving the house, 0% when I got to registration) I had a really good race. The route, as hoped, was beautiful, winding through woodland and past ponds. 

I forget how much I enjoy running trails and through woodland, dodging tree roots and ducking under branches. Without my Garmin I was free to fully enjoy the run, going on feel rather than clock watching. I still managed to finish in just under 58 minutes, which I'm perfectly happy with; I wasn't chasing a PB that day although the course was pretty flat so it could be done.
I'm in the middle
I would not hesitate to enter this again next year, even if it weren't just down the road. Scenic, well organised, good value and fun. Look on the Samaritan's website to see if they're hosting something similar near you.
Medal selfie!

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