The first ever Severn Bridge 10k was a good one because it was born out of an existing half marathon course and organisation. The runners village was well proportioned and well laid out within the available space. Sunshine bathed the event on August bank holiday Sunday and even had some of us hunting the shade before the start.
Would I recommend the race to a friend? Yes, because it is well organised, a good sized event, an accessible location (as you might expect being as most of it is run on the motorway network), the goodie bag was very well appointed, and scenery is very different - how often do you run along a plank of concrete suspended between the sea and the sky?
How it went for me:
What happens when you haven't run a 10k in a while? You run the best 10k you have in three years - of course. It was a strange circumstance indeed and I can only fathom that as I have run so many near 5k PBs this summer that I carried something through to the bigger distance. I was absolutely chuffed to bits to smash my own low expectations. The runners high and raw endorphin buzz was huge afterwards, so much so I might still be riding on the wave.
We started at one junction of the motorway bouncing to power ballads and dance tracks played over the public address system with many runner tucking themselves out of the sun under a road bridge. Before the gun went off I had the pleasure of milling about with the merry band of Pegasus club mates that had also opted for the 10k race instead of the half. We discussed sun cream (which I was able to 'borrow' from a kindly Peg in the runners village), the nature of the last hill into the finish, what everyone hoped to achieve, and we even waylaid an official photographer to do us a group shot.
I started off running the first two kilometres with no idea how I was going to go and clinging to the hope of dipping below the hour mark. During the opening 15 minutes I settled, found a pace, and more importantly found my breathing in the warm weather. It helped that I found a flatter part of the road deck camber and was following a club mate up ahead who I knew was on a similar schedule. By the time we reached the turn around point just inside of 5k I was happy that it was turning out pretty well, and was bracing for the second pass up and over the suspension bridge. Running with Pegasus Club mates made for a buzz before the race and great encouragement during the race. It was at the half way mark that I realised I was in fact chasing just the one Peg up ahead of me.
On the down hill slopes I gained and worked to try and limit loses on the up hills, the Peg up the road was doing a great job of pushing up the hills and was consisting gapping me more on those sections. In the last 3k I settled into the thought that as long as I didn't slow down beyond 6:20/km I was coming in under the hour and any real notions of pushing harder melted within that thought process of "Under an hour? Awesome!". The sun was shining across the whole cross and I was not at all comfortable with the heat, but knew I could keep efforts where I wanted them.
That talked about last hill was indeed a kicker, not hugely long but a sharp gradient that took me right out of my rhythm. Up ahead I could still see my club mate and was pleased that she would be first home of our cohort. After the hill levelled off leaving about 100m to go I briefly gave chase and had given up when a guy sprinted up next to me. He clearly wanted to beat me to the line, so rather than throttle back I daftly decided to throw on the afterburners and race him. I held him all the way to the line where he actually squeezed over in the narrow funnel to make sure I wouldn't pip him on the line. Could have been he was running the half and not the 10k (as they come into the last 3k together), but I like to think I spurred him to a better time (! - ahem, will I ever learn!).
A welcome can of pop, a flipping big medal, and a cracking time
Summary: Absolutely chuffed to bits with my efforts, most of which I paid for over the following days of course having done so little training. The race is very good, and I reckon I will be back for a crack at the half-marathon.