It’s been a couple of years since the Headington Road Runners 10k round a flat old airfield at Worminghall disappeared from the calender so I was pleased to see they were organising a new race to celebrate their 25th anniversary. I got an entry in, the start at Oxrad was only a couple miles from home, though I wasn’t expecting to be up to much.
Meanwhile, over the last few weeks, there has been some progress with this blooming frozen shoulder. It is still somewhat stuck – I can now raise it a few more inches, level with the top of my head at a push – but I’m not going to be reaching stuff from the top shelf with it any time soon. But it has got less painful, I can get through the night without painkillers (to say I can actually sleep through the night would be a bit of an exaggeration). Sometimes I manage to forget it’s there for an hour or so then feel unwarranted disappointment when it starts aching again. Most importantly I’ve felt able to go out and run as fast as I can a few times, it hurts the shoulder but only for a short while – not like before when any real effort left it really sore for a couple of days. I even managed a sub-25 parkrun a couple of weeks back – my best for ages. So progress at last!
Back to the race though, I was knackered that morning and the shoulder was having a (now less common) moan. I stuffed a couple of ibuprofen and cycled down to Marston anyway and it was great to see lots of local faces on what was a good morning for running, cool and fresh for a change. We wandered over a couple of playing fields to the start area and I checked out the start and finish, we were to go through old Marston then out onto the bypass cycleway then back through Cutteslowe and the paths behind Summertown to follow the Marston Ferry cycle-track then under the subway and on to the finish.
Chip timing so I placed myself right at the back with a hope of 43 minutes and definitely wanting under 45, not very ambitious I know! Off we went with me only pushing the start on my Garmin after the lack of tell tale beep wrongly suggested it was gun-to-chip not chip-to-chip. I settled into comfortable pace and passed a few runners as we ran through Marston, I was surprised to see a bunch of what looked like fast guys appear out a road on our right and join the race. We unexpectedly appeared at what I think of as ‘the hole in the hedge’ where we were efficiently marshalled through onto the cycleway – I had expected us to emerge from Elsfield Road.
The first mile clicked over in 8:07 which I was happy with, not quite up to 8 minute miles again yet but this was good enough and sustainable. We passed the ‘2 mile’ sign at about 1.4 miles – oh dear! A chap next to me had a grumble and I speculated that they had needed to change the route at the last minute, maybe due to problems on the road. Perhaps they’d add a bit on later.
I was feeling pretty good – always a boost starting right at the back as you’re bound to pass a few – just a matter of keeping the pace up and I was good for that. We turned off the cycleway and were very well marshalled through the Cutteslowe estate and down the narrow footpaths that they try and pretend are now a cycle route. Under the first subway, along the Marston Ferry proper cycle track – then under the 2nd subway where a couple of runners cut the corner despite being well marshalled. ‘Half mile to the finish’ a marshall shouted out – so we weren’t going to get our under-distance back. I passed someone having a walk just before the finish straight then heard her coming up behind so pushed over the line.
A lovely new race and really enjoyed it, a mug for a memento was nice as I’ve far too many shirts and don’t usually bother picking them up any more. It turned out that the race had indeed taken a wrong turn near the start and even a small mistake is impossible to correct when nearly 200 runners are charging along. Otherwise the organisation and support were great and I’m looking forward to next year already. 35:28 for 4.4 miles 123rd of 187 runners.