A few weeks prior I spotted that one of Freedom racings summer session series would be on when we were down on holiday in Cornwall. The Poldhu beach is literally a 10 minute walk from the house we were staying at with family. So I booked myself in and even managed to convince my dad to have a crack at it! Ironically I have never raced a 10k. I started with the Great South Run and neglected the shorter stuff! The race is an out and back course starting on the picturesque Poldhu beach, then out along the coast path with a minor deviation before heading back along the same route back to the beach. The race is on a Thursday evening starting at 7pm and is a popular event with locals and holiday makers alike. I was in the middle of a big block of 100 mile training weeks for my next upcoming race, the Salisbury 50k the next month, I was just going to give it my best on reasonably tired legs. With 900ft of ascent over 10k I felt this would be a good sharpener race.
The weather was absolutely atrocious with gale force winds bringing in bands of torrential rain, it certainly mellowed my enthusiasm somewhat! But about 300 odd brave souls towed the start line, having no short race experience I wished my dad the best of luck and tried to manoeuvre myself towards the front. The horn sounded and we were off but only now did I realize I needed to be closer towards the front. As we all scrambled across the sand towards the beach exit it was a bit of a bottleneck and I could see I was in about 30th place. Fortunately we were straight into a huge hill and I managed to move up to about 10th place by the top, but I could see the gaps were pretty big for a mile in. Nevertheless I barrelled down the other side of the hill towards Church Cove with my sights set on making a podium place. As I headed across the beach to rejoin the coast path I was in 5th and I could see 3rd not too far ahead. Just past the 2 mile mark it was straight into the next big climb and I managed to bridge the gap to them, as it was single track I tucked in behind them until it opened out and then moved past. Not content with that I pressed on, by now we were all being buffeted by hurricane like winds interspersed with showers to get the full experience! I could now see that the leader had a big gap over 2nd but I did appear to be reeling him in. So now we reached the coast path section above Looe Bar, I could see he was feeling it and tried to close in. Now at mile 3 I was right on the back of him and very courteously he let me past before we hit a stonking great hill! Some real race etiquette! Now it was time to start heading back but as we were on the path it allowed me to see how far everyone else was away. For the next mile and a half I tried to put some time between me and 3rd place, but I wasn’t making inroads towards 1st much to my dismay. It was at this point we rejoined the out section of the course but began to hit traffic heading the other way, this hampered progress somewhat as most of it was single file which made negotiation rather challenging! Now approaching mile 5 my legs were starting to feel like jelly, but with the toughest sections out the way there was only one more climb to go. I headed up the hill and had a quick glance behind and the coast was clear, now all I had to do was navigate the descent on the coast path. Simple! Not! Probably with about half a mile to go as I rounded the cliff edge a huge gust of wind caught me off balance, leaving me to bite the dust. Fortunately the wind blew me inland and not into the sea! I clambered up, thankful no one had seen that! Now down the hill, turn right and across the beach to the finish! I crossed the line in a time of 39 minutes. I was now congratulated by the winner, who turned out to be none other than legendary fell runner Carl Bell, who happened to be on holiday! Now it was time to wait for dad to cross the finish line! I jogged over to the bottom of the hill to wait, next thing I know there he is, with eyes glazed, face focused the hammer was firmly down as he bombed down the hill and across the beach! It was a great experience, but definitely next time I will try to get a better start position when racing shorter distances! I was too set in my marathon mindset to try and warm into it, I needed to go all out!