Initially this year I had planned for my shortest race to be a 10k, for no reason other than practicality and to lessen the burden of having to do more than 6 marathons. However this weekend I broke that rule twice as I ran not one, not two but three races as I looked to take advantage of a couple of local races to help boost my total km’s alongside this Sunday’s Sheffield Half Marathon. My weekend started on Friday evening with the Skelly 6, followed by the Zombie UK Run on Saturday afternoon and finished off with the Sheffield Half Marathon today. It wasn’t the first time this year that I’ve ran multiple races in a weekend, and it also won’t be the last, but it probably will be the only time I set a PB off the back of two races.
359.80 – 369.46KM: Skelly 6
My first race was the inaugural Skelly 6, a 6 mile trail run in Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire, hosted by the Lincoln & District Runner’s running club. As the race started at 7pm I had to travel to the race after work, leaving me to get changed into my special ‘Sonic’ race pants, along with the rest of my race attire, in the car park. Being the first of three races this weekend, I had no intention of running for any particularly good time, instead setting off at a comfortable pace aiming to come in around 45 minutes.
The first, and subsequently last, mile of the course took part on a cycle track leading to me initially questioning the ‘trail’ part of the race. We were soon directed through the woods however and out across a field. I spent the majority of the race battling back and forth with a couple of runners, not trying too hard to catch them whilst still allowing myself to be a little bit competitive. With about a mile to go I saw a couple of runners in the distance and decided to try and catch them, it was a race after all.
Once I had passed these runners I saw a couple more in the distance and opted to try and catch them too before quickly realising that those runners I could see were crossing the finish line. My watch had lost signal for a brief period whilst in the woodland, so I thought I still had a little bit longer to try and catch them, but unfortunately not. All in all it was a relatively low key race, but one I’ll keep an eye on as it looks to grow next year.
Distance: 9.75 km | 6 miles
Official Time: 00:45:26
Average Pace: 04:42 min/km | 07:34 min/mi
Goodie Bag: Bag & Water Bottle
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369.46- 74.46KM: Zombie Run UK (Lincoln)
My second run of the weekend was the Zombie Run UK in Lincoln, a 5km obstacle course with the added danger of being chased by zombies. The 11th of May had been in my race diary for some time as I had initially planned to run Rat Race’s Dirty Weekend but with the cheapest entry fee being just five pounds short of £100 that idea soon went out of the window. I might have considered it had it been one of only a handful of races this year, but when I’m having to save up for entry fees for 40+ races, plus petrol/accommodation it soon became an impossible dream.
So instead, my weekend’s plans initially consisted solely of the Sheffield Half Marathon until I became aware of the Skelly 6 race and was offered the opportunity to run the Zombie UK Run outside Lincoln. I almost entered it last year when it was held in Lincoln, but it fell the morning after the Nottingham Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest run and my body was a little worse for wear.
Unfortunately the event appeared to suffer from a lack of staffing, with the queuing for the registration taking over an hour, which was made worse by the downpour and cold weather and eventually led to both waves of the race being delayed. At the beginning of the race we were given a belt with three tags (or ‘lives’) which were attached by velcro to the belt. At various points throughout the course we would have to run through a group of zombies who would be trying to grab these tags from us.
I thought I made a good decision at the beginning of the race to place these tags at my front where I could see them, thinking I would be able to dodge zombies if I knew where they would be aiming for. This seemed like a good idea until an overzealous zombie effectively ‘sucker punched’ in the nuts whilst trying to grab a tag (hence the pained expression in the above photo). My first life was lost almost immediately after this and I’m not entirely sure when the other two were.
The obstacles throughout the race, other than the zombies, included crawling through cargo nets, jumping fences, hay bales and leaping across numerous ditches, amongst others. The last of these obstacles was a group of cars, which we were told to either jump over or crawl through, feeling optimistically athletic I opted for the former and ended up slipping off and face-planting into the dirt.
I believe I finished third but ‘infected’ as I had lost all my lives. Despite it’s issues it was definitely an enjoyable race and one I would be interested in doing again. After I got home and showered I had a quick check to see whether the ‘infection’ was spreading before an aggressive foam roller session ahead of Sunday’s Sheffield Half Marathon.
Distance: 5.00 km | 3.1 miles
Average Pace: 04:57 min/km | 07:59 min/mi
Goodie Bag: Medal, T-Shirt.
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374.46 – 395.63KM: Sheffield Half Marathon
My final race of the weekend, the Sheffield Half Marathon, was also the longest and surprisingly my first time running the event, despite only being little over an hour away. A lot had been made prior to the race of the closure of the iconic Don Valley stadium and I was keen to take the opportunity to run round it’s famous track before it is demolished later in the year.
I went into the race without any predefined strategy. With the North Norfolk Marathon next weekend I knew that I would have to take it steady and I was expecting the past two races to catch up with my legs quite quickly. I knew that I would like to keep inside 8 minute miles, meaning I would cross the line in around 1 hour 45, but I expected my body to tire so would be happy with anything under 2 hours.
Despite going to the toilet 30 minutes before the start of the race, whilst I was lining up I felt I could probably do with going again. I thought about jumping out of the crowd and going before I started, and after the race was 5 minutes late starting I wished I had. Instead I waited a mile or two before I knew I had to go and then waited for the nearest inauspicious bush that wasn’t surrounded by spectators.
As I wasn’t racing for any particular time I found myself checking my watch much less and was able to enjoy the race, taking a gel every 3 – 4 miles when needed but ultimately just comfortably chugging along. It wasn’t until well after half way that I noticed that I was running much faster than I had planned, I think subconsciously my body was tuned into the fact it was a race and it was willing me to overtake people. With about four miles to go I realised, somehow, that I was on time for a new PB, so I put my foot down so to speak.
My legs began to eat up the ground in front of me and each mile I ran was faster than the last. Eventually the Don Valley stadium was in sight but before I could cross the line there would be a painful loop around the outside before running the last 100m on the track. I looked at my watch as I crossed the line to see 01:36:26 but I had to contain my excitement as I knew I had stopped my watch when I went to the toilet, so those vital seconds I spent emptying my bladder could have proved to be costly. Fortunately I checked my phone to see a text message had come through with my official time, 01:36:50, around 20 seconds faster than my time at Silverstone.
It was the first time, that I’m aware of, that I’ve ran a negative split in a race and possibly one of the few times I’m ever likely to. For a city that prides itself on being hilly, I was surprised by how relatively flat the course was, not that I’m complaining mind. It’s too early to say whether I will be back next year, but with a fun course and great support from the crowd throughout it is definitely one I’d like to run again. Who knows, maybe next time I might even try and run fast.
Distance: 21.17 km | 13.15 miles
Average Pace: 04:35 min/km | 07:22 min/mi
Playlist: Freedom Call
Goodie Bag: Vitamin Water, Go Ahead, Bag of Sweets.
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