I like to wake up in plenty of time on race day to make sure I have enough time to get my breakfast down, this time I decided to trial something a bit different. I had my standard 2 weetabix, but then I felt after the last race that I needed more sustenance before longer events, so I polished off a bowl of porridge with a banana and some strawberries for good measure to top up the reserves. The weather was clear skies, bright sunshine and searing heat, unusual for British summertime. The race preparation had been hampered by a few minor tweaks but I felt confident my fitness was still looking strong. I decided that I would go for my handheld with a powerbar blackcurrant electrolyte tablet, inside the pouch I kept a powerbar wafer berry yoghurt flavour, some pitted dates and an SIS electrolyte gel which I would take only on feel. I like to have a nibble on dates when waiting at the start just to give me a bit of a kick and as I knew it would be hot I had been sipping on a lucozade sport orange to keep me hydrated. The Salisbury 54321 50k race is named after the fact it crosses 5 river, 4 hills, 3 country estates, 2 castles and 1 cathedral. After a quick race briefing off went the gun.
From the start there was a large lead pack of about 10, but nobody wanted to take the lead, so it ended up that Holly Rush (a GB womens marathon runner) took up the pace initially, so we settled down behind the pace bike. Gradually with each mile we were dropping a few more each mile until about mile 5 we were down to 5 of us, it had all been really civil up until this point with everyone sharing race stories and experiences. But I decided to ruin this as I sensed an opportunity with a climb up the Old Sarum hill fort approaching I decided to upset the status quo and push the pace up the hill fort. I had just broken away slightly, so in went a couple of pitted dates and a few swigs of electrolyte fluid and it was game time. I pushed on for the next couple of miles solo only to find myself being caught rather rapidly but fortunately he announced he was running the marathon, but whoever was leading got the pace bike so he suggested we stick together to avoid getting lost. So I tried to stay with until about mile 10 when we hit a forest section before going past one of the country estates he upped the pace, I let him go just enough so that I could still follow the pace bike from a distance. I had a couple of bites of my powerbar wafer and regrouped, I couldn’t see anyone close behind so I just kept the pace around the 6:30 minute mile mark. But around the 15 mile mark we headed up some sort of never ending hill and I could feel myself catching the marathon leader, so we joined forces again for the next 6 miles sharing what races we had both done before until he started to fade a bit, after we stopped at an aid station and I grabbed some jelly babies, some watermelon and several cups of water as it was scorching under the midday sun, he however opted for bread and butter pudding (which looked lovely) which could have been his downfall! I had been sipping my drink roughly every 1-2 miles, so about 24 miles in I refilled my handheld ate the rest of my wafer bar and dates. I tucked in behind the pace bike as we were starting to approach the city centre. At this point it became very apparent that there was a distinct lack of signs as to where to go, had I not been following the lead bike I would certainly have gotten lost, he had to stop radio to race HQ and get them to put out some more signs. Unfortunately for the first third of the field they all ended up getting either lost or shortening the course. We hit the marathon mark at 2:48, but my legs were now starting to really feel the burn, so now was the time to dig deep and I upped the pace to 6:20 for the next 3 miles before my legs started to fatigue quite heavily, but as we passed under the stunning Salisbury cathedral, I could feel the finish line approaching so I managed to hang on for a time of 3 hours 22 minutes to win. As it was such a hot day, as soon as I finished I was straight onto an ice cool chocolate milkshake, a big bottle of squash, a can of coca cola all of which was closely followed by an egg sandwich to finish it off. All truth be told it was a great race with some stunning scenery, although the sunburnt vest tan line was slightly less flattering!