The Ribble Valley 10k was the first road race I did back in 1998 and I ran 35:35 to come 22nd. How times have changed for this race! Last year I had a bit of a shocker, but still managed 30:48, however, this was only good enough to equal that position of 22nd! It’s a clear indication of how competitive this race has become and is a reflection of the hard work put in by Blackburn Harriers, especially Tony Wood and George Davies. Sadly an equally special person to the club is no longer with us, Arthur Almond, it was nice to hear that £260 was raised from the cake stall for the Motor Neurone Disease charity in his memory. It was a sad feeling knowing that I wouldn’t bump into him at some point before the race for a talk.
The 2011 race would be difficult to top, with a course record being set for the mens race when Johnny Mellor beat Alistair Brownlee by a few seconds in 29:10, but this year’s entry boasted Andy Vernon (a track 10,000m pb of 27:53) and the returning champion and course record holder, Mellor. Unfortunately some bad luck followed with Mellor having to withdraw with injury and Andy Vernon unable to make it, then the good old Lancashire weather waded in (literally!). The conditions were bad to say the least, heavy wind and a constant nasty rain that at times felt like hailstone (may well have been!), which we would have in our faces for most of the first half.
Despite these factors, there was still an exciting race ready to unfold! All the big guns were there: Matt Bowser, Antony Ford, Andi Jones, Andrew Wiles, Joe Bailey, Matt Barnes, Simon Jones, Dave Norman… I could go on, but you get the general idea!!! As usual, the race got off to a fast start and I made sure I was right up there alongside Andi Jones and Antony Ford. This didn’t last long however, and by 2k I was finding it harder than I should hanging on to the back of the front pack of about a dozen runners. I also checked my watch, only 6:17, over 20 seconds off pb pace! The wind was clearly effecting us all. By 3k, it was no better, about 9:20 for me and I was starting to lose contact when the pace increased. Bowser gallantly had a bash at striking out ahead and going it alone, dragging the others along and leaving myself and a couple of others adrift.
I stopped looking at my watch after 3k and I was just focusing on being as competitive as I could. Before halfway I was passed by three runners; Jack Martin, Rob Samuel and Aaron Scott. I focused on staying with them as best I could and noticed at the turn around point just after 5k that even though I was 10th, I was roughly only 15 seconds or so behind the leader. Rob Samuel was pushing the pace hard and we were managing to draw away from the other two and slowly closing in on the 6th and 7th place runners, James Tartt and Antony Ford. By 7k I could see that the leaders were less than 100 metres away and then one of them, Matt Clowes suddenly dropped out at around 8k. Although winning was highly unlikey, there was certainly places up for grabs. For the next couple of kilometres it was quite a battle between myself, Ford, Samuel and Tartt and we managed to get slightly closer to the front four.
In the last 400m I sprinted hard to bag that 5th place and even managed to get near to Joe Bailey, until he responded with a ferocious sprint in the last 200 metres to finish a couple of seconds ahead. I crossed the line in 30:14 for 5th place, which was better than I expected and I reckon I must have run the 2nd half of the race in around 14:45 – 14:50. Overall it was a very good performance for me and I managed to finish ahead of some very high quality runners.
The winner was David Bishop from Bristol, who I didn’t know that much about, but will clearly be one to look out for in 2013. Even though it was his debut 10k, he is an international track runner who boasts a 3:37 pb for 1500m, which gave him the edge in a close finish with Matt Bowser, who lead for most of the way, with Andrew Wiles a few seconds in arrears. The winner of the women’s race was Alyson Dixon in 34:02, with Katie Hewison 2nd in 34:15, closely followed by Felicity Abram in 34:19.
There’s a video put up on youtube courtesy of the excellent website eightlane :
2012 has been a strange year; not a very good one on a personal level, but it’s been one of my more succesful years as far as running is concerned. Hopefully 2013 will be able to combine the two to make it a great year. Happy New Year to you all, work hard with dedication and consistency for 2013!
2012: 4,4472 miles run. 6 personal bests.
Best race: Bramley 20: Club record and course record with 1hr 43:20.
Worst race: Lillebaelt Half Marathon: Disappointed with a flat performance when representing England.