Earlier this year stories started to appear about a City Centre road race in Norwich, so I signed up to their information emails and watched with interest.
This is without doubt one of the most hyped races I have ever entered, and also one of the most expensive. I balked a little at the price for a 10k, but in the end I couldn’t resist the lure of a race that I could not only walk to the start of from my house, but also walk home after via the pub.
Instead of posting out race packs or making you get up 4 hours before the 9:30am start to stand in a queue, Run Norwich opted for the “Expo” option, which meant I had to make a special trip into the City to collect my race number, timing chip, and a special 48 page magazine full of race day information. Of all the 3 options I would rather it was posted to my house, the magazine was nice, but honestly I’d probably have preferred to find that information online and not have to make a special trip.
Unlike most of the club organised runs I do Run Norwich seemed to be targeting more inexperienced runners, those who rarely run races, or those targeting their first 10k. The magazine therefore contained useful information about how to prepare for the race, including staying off your feet and getting some rest the day before. Information I might have done well to heed, as instead I did a tough 4 hour Roller Derby training session with my derby hero Lexi Lightspeed. It included a lot of footwork, which can be tough on the legs, and race day dawned to find me hobbling slightly with a stiff back, aching hips and sore feet and shins.
The torrential downpours promised by the BBC managed to hold off, though the skies looked ominous, so we headed off to check our bags and check out the pre race atmosphere.
The pre-race atmosphere was busy. I arrived about 8:30 and managed to get in the toilet queue before it became insanely long. Here I offer a top tip to race organisers. Work out carefully how many toilets you think you need, then double it in future please because runners hate having to queue for 30 minutes to use a toilet. ‘K Thanks!
Once we were all pinned into our colour coded start pens there was some efforts at a high energy warm up and getting everyone to jump around, at which I raised my usual disdainful eyebrow and stood silent and alone while people jumped around in a slightly embarrassed manner. I cannot stand group warm ups, or whooping.
The race was a little slow to start, there was far too much spectator room and not a wide enough space for the runners in the first 200m or so and everyone started the race across the chip timing mats at a slow shuffle which meant I could hear PB hopes dying all around me.
Once we were underway the route was great though! Fabulous and supportive volunteer marshalls, well signposted in areas where we passed the same point twice and a couple of well manned water stations with cups instead of bottles, which I much prefer, it seems far less wasteful!
There was entertainment at a couple of spots around the route, and it might be nice to have seen more of that in other places. Cheering at the start and finish is all very well, but it’s that long dark time between about 2k and 8k where you could really do with some distraction!
The weather was humid and I was stupidly beetroot faced and disturbingly sweaty, but I enjoyed the run a lot, despite my aching legs! I was hoping for a time under 1 hour 2 minutes, as I was aiming for a 10 minute mile pace minimum. I started off a little (a lot, like, a whole minute) slower than I would have liked in the first mile, found a good pace for the next couple, but then really started to flag in mile 4. Fortunately in the last mile a friend of mine from Roller Derby caught me up, and we managed to silently and with sweaty red faces gee each other up for the last mile which turned out to be my second fastest in the end. Plus we ran across the finish line holding hands, which is awesome fun and I never get to do as a solo runner (I get very annoyed when people chat all the way round, they can’t possibly be trying hard enough if they can gossip for 6 miles!)
The obligatory medal (nice and weighty!) banana and bottle of water were collected. Along with a goodie bag featuring a limited edition miniature Norwich City shirt, which was a nice touch, but I have no clue what I’m going to do with it!
Chip time results were even up on the website before I’d even finished the big roast dinner I had in the pub on the way home, giving me an official time of 1 hour 2 minutes and 47 seconds. A little slower than I hoped, but still 2 minutes faster than the last 10k I hobbled round, and considering how many bits of me ached when I got up I’m pretty happy!
Overall I was hugely impressed with the organisation of such a big event, and I would definitely run it again. If you’re a dedicated PB hunter then I’d be wary, as that slow start line could throw you off, but if you’re willing to go with the flow a little for a few hundred metres then I’d recommend the Run Norwich race for experienced runners and anyone brand new to racing!
Next up, this years Marriots Way 10k, the only race that I’ve ever managed in under an hour, though my hopes are low for this year!