Sunday, 2 March 2008
A Walk in the Park (King George V One that is)
Owwww! Today everything is sore apart from my memories of yesterday.
As you may be aware, it was the Manx Harriers Open Walks and 10k run.
There were some excellent performances by the juniors in the earlier races see www.manxharriers.com later for the results, followed by a less well supported 10k walk which nevertheless was well won by the superb Andy Green who also picked up the club award for the best newcomer later in the day.
The 20k race which had earlier looked a little thin on the ground, especially following the non arrival of Lisa Kehler, was supplemented by a switch by a good few of the Irish walkers and most notably, Ben Wears from 5 and 10k.
20k walking has one big similarity to the Parish Walk in that at the start it is very easy to go too quickly as the pace seems incredibly slow. Be very careful come race day because an incautious beginning can ruin your chances for the entire race.
My goal yesterday was to break 100 minutes, so if you are attempting this, there is no better place in the world than N.S.C. because all you have to do is 25 laps at 4 minutes. Therefore, I was spared the trouble of washing all the ink off my arms after the race as even with my mathematics, I didn't have to write down the times.
Although there were none of the really top names from British and Irish walking, there was a decent quality field and for once, I didn't spend the entire race between Peter Kaneen and the rest of the field. The company was much appreciated.
I settled into a group of four competitors which included two of the Irish lads and Paul Evenett who is ranked 6th in the U.K. for 20k. Luckily they were going at just the speed I needed to and I wasn't sucked into a battle which was too fast for my own good. Slightly confusingly though the Irish walkers dropped out at 5 and 10k but I suppose they had acted as perfect pacemakers for me as I think my splits were 24:55and 50:11.
As I remarked previously, the early stages are quite painless but from 10k, you really start to hurt. At this stage, I seemed to pull away from Paul who was attracting a couple of comments from the judges and I thought that once again, I was in for a lonely trudge to the finish.
Although the perimeter track has its detractors and I can see their point if they are easily bored, another of its great assets is that you almost always have someone to chase or somebody passing you which is an advantage in the middle stages of a race when you can start to lose concentration.
One more thing that helped me is that I seemed to have a coach on every corner and as your body tires, you sometimes need to be reminded to keep everything together. The Irish coach, Michael Lane also gives great encouragement, as did the rest of their supporters.
Coming on to the last half lap, I was overtaken again and I thought I was being lapped until my something at the back on my somnolent brain reminded me that I couldn't be lapped because this was my last one. Paul Evenett who I thought I'd left a long way back in my wake had just breezed past me. Summoning up one last effort, I gathered what was left of my strength and was able to muster and maintain a sprint for the line, though I was shocked to see later that I'd only prevailed by three seconds.
If anyone can actually tell me what happened, I would be very grateful because everyone I've spoken to watching told me that he was always right behind me but I didn't see or hear him and he doesn't seem to be next to me in any of the photographs. I'm confused and I wasn't able to ask hm last night as he didn't attend the excellent buffet and social night at the Ascot Hotel.
Initially, I was a little disappointed not to have cracked the 100 minutes but it was three minutes better than I'd ever walked previously and I reckoned that the wind was worth at least 2 seconds a lap (see always an excuse) so it didn't take long for me to appreciate the fact that it was probably my best ever walk.
Someone said that my performance was the best of the day but I'd have to disagree because Ben Wears walked an incredible time on his first 20k. Congratulations also to David Kidd the winner. There were also top walks from Jock Waddington and Chris Cale especially who managed a really big P.B.
I lap scored during the excellent 10k running race which was won by Gianni Epifani from Ben Scott and Mike Garrett.
Thanks to all the judges and to Bridget and her team from Manx Harriers who made it a great day, not to forget all the visiting walkers who make this event so special.