I like to do a few new races every year, and holidays are an excellent opportunity to enter events that I will probably never be around to do again. A pre-holiday glance at the listings came up with the Vindolanda 10K, a road race only a 20 minutes drive from our holiday cottage. Why not?
Well, how about because it is only three days after the Hadrian Hundred? True, but I seem to recover quickly from long races and at £17, I’ll risk it. I’m also a bit weary of races organised by commercial events companies, but this ‘Run Nation’ race was chip-timed, well organised and reasonable value – I’ll certainly see what else they do in the future.
Vindolanda is the site of a Roman fort and town a couple of miles south of Hadrian’s wall. HQ for the evening race was at the museum reception, with all the facilities still open (parking, toilets, coffee kiosk). The race finishes inside the site, so we (coach Kathy and myself) were free to wander around the extensive remains – normally £12 entry each – bargain!
The race begins on the entrance road and the drizzle started as we approached; a recurring theme of this holiday. There were about a hundred runners lined up, with a bit of a void between them and the few racing whippets at the front; I hesitantly stepped into the gap. The first 1K was gently rising and after a hundred meters I was already questioning the wisdom of starting near the front. I backed off slightly and resigned myself to spending the rest of the race being polite to all the people passing me. However, only two blokes went by and as the course dropped down towards the Tyne valley over the next 3K, my legs got moving and I re-passed them before the 5K mark.
All this down unfortunately meant a big up was due. Powering up the hills was not going to be an option so soon after the hundred, so I pitter-pattered my way up to 8K and took in the views. Cresting the hill, I picked up speed and it felt genuinely great to be running fast again after a weekend of shuffling. At 9K the finish at the fort comes into view, some way below, and my efficient running gait morphed into a jumble of windmilling limbs as the road fell away. A short, sharp climb just before the turn into the finish meant I looked suitably knackered as I crossed the line.
What did I get for my entry fee? Another random race done, another medal for my collection in the downstairs toilet (sorry, Trophy Room). More importantly, a bit of a buzz from racing fast just for the hell of it and some nice memories of an evening out, in place of a forgettable evening in. Well worth £17!
So, where are you racing on holiday this year?
Vindolanda 10K – 29.05.19:-
1. Daniel Alexander, Gateshead Harriers. 37:23
9. Ian Sanderson, Valley Striders. 44:14