On Sunday 7th February, Ste Bayliss and myself descended upon Witton Park. A check on the Power of 10 website showed that I’d been there twice already in 2016. Both had left me with mental scars. This was a road race rather than a XC so what could possibly go wrong… Our warm up started in the cafe debating how long we could leave it before venturing out into the icy wind and drizzle. Apparently 15 mins before racing was the answer. We dashed out for a quick warm up, then back into the cafe to warm up again, before doing a lap of the Blackburn track for good measure. After a mumbled race director speech and me saying to Ste Bayliss, take it easy up Buncer about 29,463 times, someone shouted, ” Go!” and we were off. To be honest I think it may have been a racer who was getting cold.
A quick lap of the track ensued, with what seemed like half the field passing me, and soon Mr Bayliss was pulling away from me. We started up a path and started uphill. In a few minutes I turned left and there was Buncer. For those who don’t know Buncer lane, it’s a hill that gets steeper the further up it you go. And it goes on forever. The racers went silent as the gradient increased and smiles left people’s faces to be replaced by grimaces. This was the story for 1 1/2 miles. The further up you got, the steeper the gradient. My pace slowed and legs began twitching. Better still I was also running into a headwind. I was keeping pace with people around me and was digging in. Soon I was near the top, a sharp left turn with 20-30m of the steepest gradient of all. The wind gusting here just to try and push you back down the hill. Now this is where the fun starts. It’s a false top. Yes the gradient relaxes but you’re still climbing. The first downhill part came on 2 miles! Relief. I picked up my pace in an effort to make up for lost time. Still somehow into a headwind despite turning left. I passed the 45 min pacer and carried on. Mile 3 was twisty but flat. I went through 5km in 23m 14s. Gutted. Well outside my PB pace. “Dig in and carry on!” I was passing people now. Mile 4 started with a sharp downhill which tore up my thighs after the earlier climb. Still a headwind, how????? Then a little up sharp uphill. 5miles gone and I was flying. My pace was increasing. I was passing more and more people. The last mile was a long, straight run in to the finish. Soon I dodged the bench with 1km to go and carried on going. Soon I was in the track and picking up my pace. Finally, I’d finished. Still into a headwind!!! 60th place in 44m 50s. With 440 finishers. L That’ll do. Overall I was happy. Tough race, murderous hill, I’d run a negative split and ran into a headwind all the way around. There’s more to come from me, I can feel it and my running mojo is coming back. Well done to Ste Bayliss also – 40th place in 42m 23s.
Our heroes – Steven Bayliss and Gary Wane.