Undulating v Hills

According to Dictionary.com “undulating” is defined as “to have a wavy form or surface”. Clearly the word undulating is used a bit to loosely when it comes to running events and their descriptions.

The Princes Trust 10k which I ran today was described as “undulating”, even by the announcer at the event this morning. They also announced to all of the runners that the race route was “sodden” in places.

Overall the organisation of the event was okay but obviously not fantastic (they didn’t send me a race number and timing chip). There was also no clear indication where the finish line was for spectators to await the finish of their loved ones.

As for the race it self, there was a warm-up beforehand and then the race was started by 2004 Olympic Gold Medal winner Marlon Devonish. My warmup was good and I felt like it was going to be a good race. Marlon sounded the air-horn and off we all went. I crossed the start line and passed waved to my family as I ran past. Initially the race was fine and on asphalt which eventually led on to hard packed gravel trail through the woods. I thought “this is fine” and kept on pushing through.

After a very short distance the trail became a “sodden” grass road through the woods. Like a dirt road but grassy. There were some muddy tire grooves and many people avoided these to run on the grass in the middle. There were many occasions where we had to stop because of a huge muddy section and a bottle-neck formed as people made their way through the muck (my trainers are not clean anymore). I’d say this was a bit worse than “sodden”.

There were a few hills and I believe it was “undulating” like they described, however as the race went on the hills became more and more frequent and steeper as well. When you combine that with slippery grass and mud it wasn’t ideal, but definitely a challenge!

I had to walk on about three occassions, usually near the top of a large hill that I managed to run most of and just couldn’t take anymore. I kept watching my time and at the 5k mark I was at about 27 mins which (if I could have kept up the pace) would have put me on about 55mins finish time. Alas! This was not to happen.

The hills got progressively worse during the second half of the run and even though going downhill was enjoyable, I just knew there would be an equally large hill waiting at the bottom as we progressed through steep wooded valleys.

At the 9k mark I thought I could push on through and still come in with a respectible time of around 57mins. Wrong again! The whole last km was uphill! What bright spark at the Princes Trust decided to put the finish line at the top of a hill? I had to walk with only 400 metres to go (but only for a second) before plowing on for a slow (no sprinting) finish.

Hardest race I’ve ever run and I definitely feel I earned my medal. Would I do it again, probably (50/50 chance I think). It was also nice to receive my medal for something so insignificant as a 10k race from an olympic gold medalist. He congratulated me and I said the same to him for his achievement in 2004.

I clocked my time at about 58mins 14secs but I won’t know officially until they post it on the site. Considering the surface I was running on and the massive hills I’m still impressed with my finish time. I’ve put some photos we took at event on facebook and on my website for you to see.

It was great having my family there to support me and they help make it worth it. Now I have a break from events until December when I’ll take part in the Santa run in Reading, Berkshire. After that my next event isn’t until the Reading Half-Marathon in March 2009.

Overall a great day out and a great sense of achievement for surviving!

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