Less than 24 hours after Graham Millington et al had been deriding Andy Kaufman for his “shirt crime” at Sefton Park, Jayne Taylor and Dave Collins also had dress issues at Benidorm. There were rather more pleasant decisions to have to make here though, involving which pair of sun glasses to run in and whether it was worth taking a tee shirt to change into after the race, in case the temperature dipped below 20C.
With neither of us expecting a particular fast time and with chips being used anyway, we made no real attempt to get close to the front for the start of the race. The race had originally been scheduled for Saturday evening, but the move to Sunday morning meant that it was quite a bit warmer; probably 20 degrees hotter than Sefton Park!
For those familiar with the Benidorm (half) marathon, the route had reverted from the previous years flat but repetitive course to the older course, which is more interesting but also considerably hillier. So off we went with the usual collection of obstacles who had positioned themselves far too near the front, and we spent the first K picking our way through people who sounded as if they had got their early pace judgement seriously wrong!
The first 5K had a fair bit of climb in it, going up past the Levante Club hotel and Benidorm Palace. The Nightingales (perennial Wigan Phoenix runners) had entered the 10K which had started about 30 minutes earlier, and it was good to see their familiar gaits as they returned on the opposite side of the road. A fairly sharp turn saw us also getting the benefit of the downhill and this was reflected in the splits, with the second 5K being nearly a minute faster than the first.
Once back at sea level, the route passed through the “old town”, with lots of supporters lining the way, before it briefly ran along the sea front. At this point, expectations of a half decent time nose-dived as we were directed away from the flat promenade, up a rather nasty sharp incline. Followed by a bend, and then another nasty sharp incline. Followed by one of those long stretches of straight road that you can see gradually climbs. Well at least you have to come down again, so that should be good. Unless they decide to take you down in no distance at all, so that your quads get a good pounding. Oh the joys of road racing!
Anyway, we eventually were led through an underpass back out on to the promenade. Nice and flat, and extremely warm – the sun having sneaked up a degree or five while we were being distracted by the climbs. Still, well over half way now. Back through the old town (climb!) and onto the prom along Levante beach. At this stage, Jayne was having a real battle with her chimp (as in paradox!) and only managed to placate it by promising it a glass of coke at the finish. In the meantime, she avoided the temptation to nip into the nearest café and hung on to the next drinks station for a much needed swig of water.
If you’re running well, the last mile or so of this course is brilliant. Wide avenue, good surface, a real fast track. If you’re tired and feeling sorry for yourself, it’s a horror, a real road to nowhere. The 20K gantry can be seen all the way along but never seems to get any closer. Then when you’ve almost lost the will to run its just (just?!) a K to go. The crowds thicken again towards the finish and people shout “only 200m to go”. Those of us who have done this race before though, know that you are rewarded by an uphill finish. Round the corner, give it all you’ve got, look at the clock and realise that you are getting slower. Come back Graham Millington’s best mate PB.
So to the results. Over 1400 runners. Winner (Spaniard) in 1.07.44. Great run from Joe Bailey of Salford to grab second place in 1.11.27; apparently he’d been up until 5 the night (morning) before or he might have got a decent time! He came back from the presentation laden with rewards – a hanging basket full of fruit, a “chicken drink” (his words – turned out to be chicken soup!) and 4 months membership of the local gym! Jayne has been following the fortunes of one Maxine McKinnon on the Power of 10 for the last year or so, having trailed her in most of the rankings and then realising that they share the same birthday (year too!). Maxine won the ladies race in an amazing 1.22.40, and we had a good chat with her after the race. Dave’s time (chip) was 1.27.28, to just squeeze in the top 100. Jayne recorded 1.32.21 (chimp), for 6th lady overall, and 2nd lady vet.
How nice it was to stroll round in vest and shorts after the race, thinking of the mighty efforts of those Harriers at Sefton Park the day before. Then an afternoon session with Mr. Miguel J I wonder if Wrexham in February will be as entertaining.