Sunday, 12 July 2015

Womens Running 10km Nottingham

Just because I am an ultra runner does not mean I want to be sent off on an extra lap in a 10km and even less so if I am winning.

I would not normally blog about a 10km race but am so cross about today that I wanted to get it all written down.

I had a free place for the race from Skechers who were sponsoring it.  I wouldn't have done it otherwise as it is very expensive to enter (I think about £26). 

The website didn't have a great deal of detail and no details about parking.  I messaged them twice asking about parking but got no response so in the end looked on the race for life website who do a race at the same venue, they said where they were using for parking so I assumed the same.  I put this into my sat nav and it took me to almost the right place if it were not for the road being closed for the race!! No info about this in the limited race details. The poor marshal had not been given instructions on parking, she was there for directing runners.  She sent me in the almost right direction of the car park and said there were signs.  I drove around for a while but couldn't see any signs so went back (I actually went back to her twice and was somewhat grumpy).  In the end I put in the postcode I had for the race start (not parking) in the hope that it would take me there.  I was so close to giving up and driving home.  So eventually after several turns there were signs as you could see the car park so they were a bit late really.  The marshal should have been given full directions, all she was told was turn right then left but in reality there were about 2 or 3 more turns after that before you saw any signs.

Got parked up and got my number.  The toilet Q was long so I went behind my car, they delayed the race start because the toilet Q was so long.

I started near the front and settled into a pack just behind a couple of people ahead.  After about 5 minutes I was in the lead, the pace was feeling reasonably comfortable.  The route has a lot of out and backs so you can see how far behind others are.  I was surprised how much of a lead I had at the first of these.  That lead kept growing so by about 3 or 4 miles I realised that barring a disaster I was going to win.  I am far from PB shape so eased off the gas a little as there was no point giving 100% if I could win by only giving 85% -  a PB was not on the agenda otherwise I would have pushed harder.

For the 1st lap I had a lead cycle.  At the end of the lap he stopped; I asked him to come along with me and asked another marshal if the bike could come but he didn't.  Mostly the route was well marked and there were a fair few marshals but a lot of the time the marshals are bored in races (I am sure I would be) and they forget to tell you which way to go so I had to ask.  Having the bike helps as you can see where you are meant to go.

At the last out and back which was maybe 1.5 miles to go I was at least a couple of minutes ahead so unless I fell over or someone behind was able to throw out a 5mm then the win was mine.  I had seen from previous races that the top 3 got a bottle of bubbly so I had already decided I would give mine to the marshal who I kept pestering for directions!!

Then it all goes wrong.   I am coming up to an ambulance and think that it is around here that we turn into the finish (before doing a lap around a field).  There must have been about half a mile to go.  There were 3 lanes and I deliberately did not have my music playing as I wanted to hear instructions.  I was directed into the left hand lane by a marshal.
 A later marshal shouted 'straight on' so I went straight on thinking I was sure I shoukd turn but knowing what I am like with directions thought I must have got it wrong.  It was obvious I was on my last lap as I was going significantly faster than the others around me.  I thought that maybe the last lap was a bit different at the end so carried on running.  There were no marshals on this stretch and I was starting to get a bit suspicious that I had gone wrong.  These sort of races are often not accurate so the fact that time I was getting close to 10km but not yet in the field didn't ring the same alarm bells as it might have done on an officially measured course. 

 In the picture on the left you can see there were three lots of runners on one stretch of road all going the same direction 1.  Me on my last lap  2. Others at the end of their first lap (ie being lapped, I don't think there were many of these) 3. People starting out on their last lap.  The issue was at the point where you can see the 4/9km marker. 

When I got almost to the far end and saw the parking marshal again as well as the 1/6km marker  I knew that I had defiantly missed the turn so turned around and ran back in the worse mood ever.  

In the picture on the right the bottom arrow was where I should have turned (I did on the first lap when I had the bike).  As I was the only person in that area it was easy! The second arrow is where I did turn!
When I got  back to the bit where I should have been directed I heard the marshals shouting '10km turn around' and directing people - shame they didn't do that for me. 

I finished 6.7 miles in 47.23.  The 'winner' finished in 45.xx.  On strava my 10km split was 43.31, other people who did the race on strava measured it as 6.1miles rather than 6.2 so my finish would have been 42.xx i.e. a significant win. 

When I finished I obviously complained and was on a foul mood.  The RD said he would have to speak to the marshals to find out what happened - he didn't take my name or number though.  It was obvious what happened but I got the impression he didn't believe me.   Afterwards a number of people spoke to me as they either saw me go off in the wrong direction or had seen me way ahead and wondered why I didn't win.  There was a lovely lady from England Athletics (not sure her role but she had a clip board and was filling in a form).  She had been at the bit where I should have been sent to the finish so saw how I went the wrong way and how far ahead I was so at least the organisers will know I am not making it up as she spoke to them.   She also said that she was at the briefing and they said the back runners might get lapped so surely they knew it was going to be busy at that tricky point and taken precautions such as a) had the lead bike on the 2nd lap and b) had extra marshals or another marshal a little further up in case anyone went too far?

What happened next was that the 'winners' were presented with their prizes which was the worse bit as that should have been me on the podium. I don't know what the protocol is when this happens but I feel that they ought to have at least investigated before awarding prizes.  I was around right at the end but the RD never came back to me, I suppose he was too busy/avoiding me.

I am not sure now whether I am more disappointed in being sent the wrong way and losing the win or the inadequate way in which this was dealt with i.e. just being swept under the carpet .  If I had come in 2nd and was awarded 1st I don't think I would be able to claim that prize it would feel wrong.  I don't even drink and have plenty of shoes (which were the prize) so its not like I mind about missing out on that, its the principle of it all.  I was offered a free entry to their race in Liverpool next week.  That is a 5 hour round journey and would require staying in a hotel overnight so I declined.  ( I also have a small matter of my longest ever swim at Isoman next weekend).

I saw the bike man at the end and asked why he didn't come with me for a second lap, his response was he was only meant to do 1 lap! If he had been with me then this wouldn't have happened.

Speaking to a few other people they said they found the point where I was sent wrong quite confusing. 

This is the same organisation who put on the Womens Running Birmingham 10km which I won last year.  I was supposed to have been sent some shoes for winning (I only run in Skechers now so was getting them for a friend) but they never arrived despite several messages.

And one final moan is that after I wanted to go to the toilet, I tried 3 which were out of toilet roll!!

On a positive note, it was a nice course and lots of ladies seemed to be enjoying it and having a great time and they are already getting lost of praise for an amazing race on FB and twitter! Also, the marshals were mostly really friendly and enthusiastic.  

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