I went into this race fully blind as to what the route was like. Oh, Buncer Lane was a shock to the system! I loved the whole day though, and I would definitely think about doing the Winter Warmer 10k again! This is a long one.
5th February 2017. Sunlight streaming through my room, I checked my phone to see it was 7:40am. I’d woken 15 minutes before my first alarm was due to go off but hey, no point attempting to get back to sleep! I was actually so awake at this point, and just excited. It was my 24th birthday, but honestly the most exciting part was that I had my first race of 2017 – the Blackburn Roadrunners Winter Warmer 10k!
Let’s go back to mid-January. I was thinking about my birthday and realising that it was on a Sunday I knew that there would be a race somewhere. Turns out there were quite a few down south! I managed to find the Mad Dog run in Bolton, and this one in Blackburn. Unfortunately the Mad Dog 10k sold out months and months ago, so I went for the Blackburn one. A little further away from me than Bolton, but still only about a 40 minute drive away as it turns out. Don’t ask me why, but I just really wanted to do a run on my birthday, and a run with a medal at that! Sad or just a little insane? I’ll let you decide ha!
The drive was really easy and we arrived in no time. There were plenty of marshalls already about, directing cars for parking and then directing the runners to the pick up areas. Getting my race bib and chip took minutes, and I was really impressed with their organisation! It was only when I got back outside and showed my number to my mum that I realised I’d been given number 24. On my 24th birthday. It can’t have been coincidence, I signed up late! Once that was done, we headed back into the arena and soaked up the atmosphere. There’s just nothing better than the nervous excitement that race day brings! Oh and my mum told the guy doing all the race commentary it was my birthday so he only went and bloody announced it to everyone! Embarrassing.
As we were there early, we got to see the younger runners doing their 2km run first. Some of them were absolutely tiny, and it was lovely to see them all running. Honestly I felt a little emotional when they all started coming back in to the finish line, all red-cheeked, tired looking yet so happy with themselves!
11am, time for the 10k! The start and finish was on the track, so all runners headed around the track and we all lined up. Pacers were helpfully dotted about so I quickly found the 60 min pacer and tried to start near to him. I thought this was really great – the pacers all carried a badminton racket with their time on it so you could easily spot them throughout the race. Better to keep up with them! (Also my mum was so proud of herself for getting this photo of me as I ran past!)
I mentioned at the beginning that I was not prepared for Buncer Lane. Well nope, I certainly was not. The first 1-3km was completely uphill. It was nearly like 20 minutes worth of uphill running. Horrendous. There was one point and I was like ‘Yes, we are turning left instead of going up that hill!’ and then we turned left, and went up the same hill just at the other end of the road… As I got to the top my stomach felt so tight and if I’m honest I thought I was going to be one of those people you hear about collapsing and having a heart attack whilst running haha. It was awful!
But then the 1:05 pacer went in front of me and that was all the push I needed. There was no way I was taking more than 65 minutes to finish this 10k! That said, I really didn’t think I’d be able to hit a PB at all by this point.
Going on Down!
Thankfully, the next 4-6km was all downhill. Still pretty tough on the legs, but you can sort of just let gravity do the work and pull you down… I definitely managed to pick back up some time here and also spotted the 60 minute pacer a few minutes ahead of me. Still, it was a very distant few minutes away. These kilometres were definitely a lot more enjoyable, and I was feeling really good by this point. We did hit another small uphill challenge at around 7km but soon enough we were back to level grounding.
The views were incredible though, we were running through country lanes and could see pretty far at some points. It was nice just to run through long country lanes though and see all the houses and areas around there.
Nearing the end
I can’t honestly remember much from the last 8-10km. As we got back to Witton Park we ran through football fields where plenty of matches were happening. It felt a little surreal actually. I think to be honest I was just completely knackered by this point! Someone did spot my number though, and I guess from the commentator announcing it, they remembered it was my birthday. Got a big happy birthday shout as I ran past. I mean, that cheered me up! I also spotted my dad just before getting back onto the track.
Final 400m lap of the track
This was actually torture. We got back to the track, had to run past the finish line and around the 400m before getting back to the finish line to finish. I could see the 60 min pacer about 100m in front of me so I tried so hard to get that last sprint to catch him up. As I crossed they read out my number/name and I didn’t hear it but apparently the guy wished me happy birthday again!
As I came to a stop, I felt SO tired and sick. I really pushed myself in the last half of that race, and although I didn’t know for certain, I was pretty sure I’d hit a new PB. As it turns out, I finished in 01:00:03. A 30 second PB, but so damn close to that sub-60. If only I could have pushed that little bit harder! I’m still annoyed but hey ho, Manchester 10k that sub-60 is getting done. I was the 120th female and 398th finisher out of 600 so I’m happy with that.
I of course took advantage of the free massage afterwards… When it’s there, you can’t say no! It was also one of the most painful thing ever – on par with those uphill kilometres haha. Legs felt great after it though! Overall I thought the Blackburn Road Runners really put on a fab race. There were SO many marshalls in and around the arena, out on the course and easily on hand if you needed anything. It’s great when so many volunteers can come together to make a day run so smoothly. It seems like a really great club to be a part of, and if I lived closer I wouldn’t think twice about joining them!
And here are my stats in case anyone was interested! Just look at a visual of that awful hill incline!