An early start as we were scheduled for a club photo in College Green at 08:30 and the cat wanted feeding before my alarm went off anyway. I managed to eat a bowl of cereal before I left and a banana on the walk in, so was feeling well fuelled. The bad weather that was forecast hadn’t materialised, so after dumping bags there was just some mooching about with vague attempts at stretching and a lot of chatting before heading to the pens.
I was in the red pen, which meant that we started in the first wave but after the white pen (which was alongside us) had cleared out. This is an attempt to help ease congestion and people are allocated their pens based on their estimated times. I was quite near the front of the pen (a bit of a conundrum here, do you go to the pen early to get a good spot and risk getting cold, or go to the pen late and try and push through?) so was over the timing mats pretty quickly after our start, but still at barely a jog due to the crush.
The first couple of km are all about finding space and rhythm, alas the finding space often interrupts the rhythm. I was aiming for a pb and for 45:00 minutes, so knew that I had to hit 4:30 km all of the way around. I knew that once we were over the flyover that there would be more space but also that the distance I travelled would be more than 10km before I crossed the line. I allowed myself to go a little faster than 4:30/km in those couple of km (aided by gravity on the way back down the flyover) and then settled in.
Soon we were under the bridge (with the usual ‘oggy, oggy, oggy’s) and the lead runners were coming back down the other side of the portway. It was nice to see that an electric Nissan Leaf was being used as the lead vehicle, hopefully that will continue beyond this year of Bristol being European Green Capital. I could now distract myself by spotting and shouting at fellow Bristol and West club members. Lots of faces I didn’t recognise (but the faster runners had their names on their bibs instead of numbers), but plenty that I did (though I did miss some people that I knew were there). At one point I had to correct myself having spotted Jane and then Gordon in front of her, ending up calling Gordon ‘Jordan’.
After the turnaround I almost literally bumped into Geoff, Ashton Court parkrun boss, then started chasing down Rob (passing him at the water station). I also passed Dan (who had been ill) whilst spotting lots more runners on the way up the portway. Back into the city and I made friends with Dave who had noted my shout outs and this is where the hard work started. Rich was taking photos on the bridge over Cumberland Road, joined by Gary and Rob cheering people on, and I managed to wave for a bit, but raising your arms above your head slows you down a bit.
I was still on target at 8km and either completely missed the 9km marker or they hadn’t put it out, spotting Karen at the turn back into the city centre proper. It was time to give it everything over the bobbly bricks of the bus lane then round the corner by the Hippodrome and down the hill to the finish. I knew at this stage that I should be under 45:00 and tried to encourage on a younger runner next to me who looked to be flagging. He picked up his knees like a trooper and pushed through to the line.
I was very happy to stop my watch at 44:42, a time matched by the provisional results on the website in position 1,076, but less happy at the time taken to retried my bag from the baggage tents. It appears that the bags were just dumped in their respective pens (500 numbers in each pen) rather than placed in number order so the wait for the cadets to rummage around for them was longer than some people took to run the race. My bag was a distinctive colour and I had taken my number off so could hand it over to aid the cadet in remembering it, so mine got back to me a little quicker but only after I had been in the queue for a while.
It was then off to a local pub where we had pre-booked and pre-paid for a buffet lunch and there were lots of congratulations over good results and pb’s, and commiserations over frustrations at dawdlers slowing people down.
Slightly disappointed the medal doesn’t have the bridge on it, but it’s going on the pb hanger, bumping last year’s medal (46:10).