The Balmoral 10km is a favourite and annual event for Mike Newton. This year was not any different except that he managed to get a PB on what is not a flat course. There is a significant hill, complete with piper to urge you on, that has to be negotiated. Well done.
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Mike said: “The Balmoral 10k has been very lucky with it’s weather in the time I’ve been running it, but this was to be the first year I’d run it in a rain shower! No bad thing as it turned out!
This was my 7th consecutive year running this race, with its notorious hill. It had taken me five attempts before I managed to complete this tough course in under an hour, getting round in 57:47 in 2009, but still walking up most of the hill. Last year I improved that time by two minutes, but I was slightly disappointed with my run immediately following the finish!
This year I changed my strategy slightly from previous years by starting further forward, just behind the 45 minute group, to hopefully stay in front of the crowd who charge off ahead to find space on the narrow course, then slow down, forcing everyone else to manoeuvre around them! Given my habit of starting too fast, this was risky, so I had to try to control myself! 😆 I maintained roughly the same pace as my brother Craig and his friend Iain for the first two miles but as the turn before the bottom of the hill approached, they pulled away as I eased up on my pace in preparation for the climb! Still running as I passed the 4km marker I plodded on but was forced to walk up a steeper section as my quads began to burn, before the gradient eased and I managed to run to the water station, which, confusingly, had been moved down the slope from its normal position just after the highest point on the course. I held onto my cup until I had passed the pipers at the top and managed a couple of sips before attempting to accelerate along the short flat section before the start of the decent.
This is where the ‘fun’ starts! How quickly could I get down the hill without serious injury, while still having enough energy left for the relatively flat final 1.5 miles? Fast enough I guess, passing a number of people who had passed me on the way up the hill and maintaining my pace fairly well on the way into the finish, finally completing the second half of the race in a time faster than my parkrun PB, and getting a name check for myself and ERN too as I ‘sprinted’ the last 50m!
It more than a little surprised me, after collecting my medal and t-shirt, when I checked my Garmin to find I had chopped almost a full three minutes off last year’s time, and finished in 52:51, improving my 10K PB by 91 seconds in the process! 😀
While the cool, damp conditions, were almost ideal for running, they weren’t so great for the spectators, but those brave enough to venture out onto the course were still very vocal, despite the constant drizzle, and had come out in much greater numbers than previous years, lining the course on both sides for most of the last mile! A great event and a good day out!
By the way, the first running of the Petrofac Challenge multi-terrain half marathon, run on the Sunday, sounds like it was a great success too! Something to think about for the future?!”