Woodcote 10k. Billed as the toughest 10k in the South Chilterns.  Not sure how many races fall into that category, but it does have a reputation as being a difficult one, first half downhill, second half uphill, more or less.

Before the race:

  • received race number by email a week or so prior to the race.
  • arrived about 45 mins before start a village hall for registration
  • Registration straightforward , race number given in return for chip, vest number, safety pins etc.
  • Supervised bag drop
  • Weather miserable for almost anything but running. Not too cold, about 9 degrees c, grey, drizzly.
  • Got chatting to a guy that’s run this race every year for decades. His race strategy boiled down to peg it for 8k then see what you’ve got in the tank for the uphill section the last 2k. 
  • Free hot drinks and biccies for runners, cuppa and a digestive for me, very welcome
  • I was aiming to scrape under 50 minutes which would take 1:42 or more off my 10k race pb.
  • My first run under race conditions since the 2016 Reading Half.

The race

  • Start was not grouped into target times, but it’s a fairly small race, 409 finishers this year. I found a spot about 15 runners depth from the front.
  • Standard chip timing setup
  • Race started on time at 10:30am
  • the first 5k is pretty much all downhill which made for a fast getaway. I banked about 3 minutes against my target of 50 in the first 5k. I needed it all!
  • Water in cups at about half way, a splashy pit-stop
  • The middle section was ok, couple of little hills, up and downy.
  • I started to struggle at about 7.5k where the ground started to tip properly uphill. 
  • I’d like to say I adopted a walk-run tactic but I hadn’t a choice, nothing in my legs, pounding down the hills had taken it out of my quads. Still, I found it doable to walk/run which got me through the climb to about the 9k mark in ok time . This seemed to be a common tactic as I leapfrogged several people taking the same approach in that section.
  • The last km was fairly flat or a gentle uphill slope so I ran that in decent order to the finish 
  • My Garmin had me at 50:16, so just over my target time.  Bit annoying as if I had run even one of my walking sections I’d have scraped it I reckon.
  • I used my 3minutes I banked plus a little bit. Close but no cigar!

After the race

  • Water given out close to the finish
  • Bit of a half-hearted stretch
  • Hot drinks and more biscuits in the village hall
  • Race time was 50:32, chip time 50:19 (pb)

Personal bests are not to be sniffed at but I confess to being disappointed not to make the sub-50 target. On the plus side, I am now looking forward to the Goring 10k at the end of February. When I ran that last year I had more conditioning in my legs than today as I was 9 or 10 weeks into the training for the Half. If today was anything to go by, I should smash it this year!

Overall, enjoyed it, nice little race. Will do again.