If Arthur Renshaw ever invites you for dinner on Shrove Tuesday, you might want to think twice before accepting.
At the pre-race briefing for the Club 10k championships, Arthur assured us that most of the course was “pan flat” – which makes you question how much heat his kitchen utensils would transfer to the pancake batter!
In fact, the course did get flatter as it went on – and in my view Arthur and the TRC committee have found a fantastic route to relaunch the Thornbury 10k in July. It begins with seriously steep climbs and descents out of Oldbury; on into the tiny hamlet of Cowhill (although I bet the estate agents still call it Oldbury-on-Severn); followed by bumpy bits in and around Kington, before a final two-mile loop on the outskirts of Oldbury that takes you back into the heart of the village for the finish. It is a test of race strategy, as well as endurance, and it should certainly be possible to run a negative split if you can avoid the temptation to run too hard on those opening climbs.
A huge thank you to the volunteer marshals who made sure the event ran smoothly, and will help refine the plan ahead of the race later in the summer when we expect up to 200 runners to take part.
It was a warm and sunny Sunday morning, even by 8.30am when the first runners arrived at the Anchor Inn, where the race would start and finish. You don’t normally see that many scantily-clad people congregating at a pub so early in the morning unless you’re about to board a flight to Malaga. The Anchor management kindly let us use the outdoor toilets, and given the high percentage of middle-aged men taking part that was a mercy.
Jack and Rory Williams were there to check out the course on which they intend to win the 2038 edition of the race. They enthusiastically rang their cow bells as we set off, and were still shaking them with undimmed enthusiasm an hour or so later when the final runner came home. It gave the opening climb something of an Alpe D’Huez vibe, but fortunately their mum, Lizzie, had confiscated the orange smoke flares.
Rory and Jack already knew their dad was awesome, but Nick reminded the rest of the club of that fact, with a stunning run in 35:44, which I am told is the best 10k time by a TRC male runner in nearly a decade. Nick could go at least a minute quicker on a properly flat course!
Nick led from the gun, and had already put about 10 seconds on the second place runner by the time we passed Oldbury parish church. Before the start, I predicted the finishing order of the runners would be the same as at the top of that first climb. But like driving to the very edge of Almondsbury village, it ain’t Over till it’s Over.
Andy Wilson was second up the hill, motoring to his usual fast start, but showed how much his endurance levels have improved to hold on to that position, despite the quality of the runners behind him, and finish in 37:07. Andy’s best run in TRC colours so far I’d suggest.
Phil Blackburn deployed a different strategy and was much more circumspect up the opening hills, and he was the only runner to come through the field, moving from 5th to 3rd, to record an excellent time of 37:22. Sean Leadbetter did struggle slightly in the closing miles, but that’s all relative. He was still fourth in 38 mins flat. Ben Bohane continued his remarkable run of results with 38:11 in fifth place, although like Paul Harrod (39:02; 6th), is possibly at his best on the flatter road routes, and/or evening events. Both were notably down on their Berkeley 10k PBs.
George Evans has the most elegant and efficient upright running style – honed by bounding hurdles topped with champagne coupes set out by his butler at his Kington estate. George pulled away from Asten Haynes in the final mile to finish in 40:25, with Asten a mere 19 seconds behind. Paul Thomas (42:11) and Pete Cable (44:05) completed the male top 10.
Ali Vaz was an equally emphatic winner of the women’s race, and also finished inside the overall top 10. Ali ran a brilliant race and completed the tough course in 42:15. Jo Plumbley – just a week after finishing another gruelling ultra – managed to outsprint Hannah Hamilton, and pip her by 44:50 to 44:54.
Nikki Foss ran her overall 10k PB, which is a magnificent achievement. She ran 51:54, and I am sure there is much more to come, as she has fractionally more time to devote to training now the demands of motherhood are merely relentless as opposed to all-consuming! Congratulations to junior runner Abbey Bonnet for coming in 5th place in the women’s race in a fabulous time of 53:40, and for making sure her dad, Danny, didn’t get lost or get into mischief on the way round.
As the TRC committee decided that this would be a straight shoot-out for the club championship, there isn’t space to list all the results. However please check out the website to see the full standings. Many of the other performances were just as impressive on an age-graded basis, but we weren’t recording those on this occasion.
Finally, a brief roundup of some of highlights during the previous fortnight.
Ros, Jo and Natalie – the 3 Amigas – ran the 40 mile Stroud Ultra together. Literally, ran it together, as they paced each other round to finish at the same time, in 9 hours and 54 minutes. All very civilised, and each of them got medals in their age categories; in Ros and Jo’s cases it was gold!
Ben Bohane ran his first ever ultra, in Pembrokeshire – a race that attracted a high quality field from across the UK, and he only went and finished 6th! Stunning run, for a guy I’m running out of superlatives for. Well, I ran out of them a while ago, but just hope you’ll forgive the etymological recycling.
Mark West ran one of the best marathon races in recent TRC history, with an excellent 3hrs and 8 mins. At the other end of the scale, Phil Blackburn was the first TRC member to race in a county 1500m track championship for quite some time. In his first attempt at the distance since he was school, Phil bravely tracked the leaders for the first few laps, and while he inevitably had to descend into the pain cave over the last 400m, he still finished in a brilliant 4 mins and 33 seconds. I am sure he can improve on that, and I’d also like to challenge Andy Wilson to try one too!
Highlights from the parkruns include, 14th May, a first place at Lydney for Dylan Roberts in 18:08, (followed by a second at Berkeley Green the following week). and a 19:06 PB at Severn Bridge for Simon Pinnington.
On the 21st May, Jo Webster ran her 104th parkrun – which is a great achievement – and completed the Thornbury run in 26:34. Catherine Dack was fourth women at Wotton (sounds like a Shakespeare play) in a new PB of 26:29, while at Severn Bridge, Richard Jackson equalled his course PB of 21:31, but given the windy conditions I estimate that to be a real terms decrease of 15 seconds.