Trek and Run were supported during this event by;
Part 1: By Laura Kimberley
On Sunday 20th March the Heyford Park races took place at an RAF airbase in Cherwell Valley. The event offered a 5k, 10k or half marathon option as well 600m and 1k junior races. My friend Nicola and I had opted for the 10k as part of our ongoing training plan we’re undertaking in line with a number of Purple Patch’s upcoming events.
We arrived at the airbase about an hour before race time and were directed to the car park. In the emails received from the event organisers in the lead up to the event we had been sent a parking pass that we were required to print in order to allow us entry into the car park. There was no additional charge for this pass but it meant only race participants could park inside the airbase, ensuring plenty of space for those taking part.
We walked the half a kilometre to the event village where we were able to collect our race numbers and pins and go to the loo. The lines moved really quickly and myself and Nicola both noted that the portable toilets were the cleanest and most well stocked we had ever been in. There was also a bag drop there although we didn’t need to use it as we’d roped my brother into coming with us to hold stuff…erm I mean take pictures and cheer us on!
The junior races kicked off first and then there was a group warm up for those taking part in the adult races. After that we were all directed over to the start where the 5k, 10k and half marathon distances were set off together.
As promised the route was pretty much pancake flat as we followed the base’s runway and taxiways and there were clear distance markers along the route showing kilometre and mile markers. There were volunteers along the route manning water stops and pointing out any signs relating to turnaround points or laps for the different distances. Everyone we spoke to was really nice and smiley and it really made the feel of the whole event a positive and happy atmosphere. About halfway round at the end of the runway there was a brass band on a stage which was a great surprise and really well placed to spur the runners on.
I surprised myself as to how happy I actually felt during this run. I tried to remember advice I’d been given by my fiancé Dave about pacing and not allowing myself to go off too fast. Due to the route being so flat it would have been all too easy to set off too quickly then tire out but we held back to a comfortable pace and chatted about various things on the way round.
Obviously neither Nicola or I are competitive and the event is more for enjoyment and to aid our ongoing fitness goals so we didn’t really have a finish time in mind. My previous PB had been 1 hour and 6 minutes for a 10k and Nicola’s had been 1 hour and 17 minutes. Towards the last couple of kilometres I tried to work out roughly how long we had taken and we came to the conclusion we had a good shot of beating the 1 hour 17 minute finish time. This spurred us on in the last part and we ended up finishing 1 second apart at around 1 hour an 13 minutes. No PB for me this time, but a 4 minute improvement for Nic which was amazing!
At the finish we were presented with a finishers t-shirt, a banana, water and an absolutely gorgeous medal. Definitely one of the nicest medals I’ve ever had for a 10K so I was really excited to take it into school the next day and show my class – they like to keep track of my race bling. I felt really good at the end of this event which is also not a feeling I’m used to. I usually need to sit, get my breath back, try not to be sick and gulp down loads of water but this time I was feeling really good and definitely like I had more in me. Hopefully this means that my training plan (of sorts) is beginning to show some positive effects and it did make me feel much more confident for the upcoming events we’ll be taking part in.
Overall I really enjoyed this event. The staff and volunteers were lovely, it was well organised and in a very cool location. I’ll definitely need to do this one again running solo in future to see if I can manage that PB that the event website suggests should be attainable!
Our next Purple Patch event will be the Stockley Park 10k on 15th May and I can’t wait!
Part 2: By Nicola Turner
I wasn’t feeling too good on the morning of the race as (being honest) I hadn’t done much training and the weather was freezing! However having looked at the race location online I was feeling a little more excited. The race was located on a disused airfield base which meant it was almost completely flat and had some unusual buildings to look at as we ran, plus there were also a flock of sheep running around part of the base, which certainly lifted my spirits before we started our own run!!
The race village was compact but had good toilet facilities (a must-have for races) and a couple of food and drink stands. Everyone had to collect their race packs from the welcome stall, which was well set out in alphabetical order and was run with very helpful staff! There were also maps of the route so you and your spectators could see where you were going.
The warm up was run by two enthusiastic staff, which kept it upbeat without wearing you out before the run, which I have found some have done in the past. They also made sure everybody did stretches before which was very good.
As I expected the route was fairly flat all the way round so was good for people of all ages and abilities. For the 5k and 10k races it was a continuous route whereas the half marathon was a repeat of the 10k route.
Half way round the 5k competitors left to finish their race and I was really starting to wish I’d chosen that option instead, however a surprise for us from the race organizers – a Salvation Army brass band - really lifted my spirits and kept me going. The way the course was structured meant you heard this again around 8k, which again was a much-needed morale boost.
I found my fellow athletes were very jolly all the way round and everyone was spurring each other on and offering support. Staff dotted around the course were also key in keeping our spirits up as there were a few parts where I wasn’t sure I could go on!
Once you reached around 8.5k, you started to see the finish line so I knew I could keep going. The half marathon drinks stand around 6 mile also contained many enthusiastic volunteers to spur you on for the last push round the corner where the spectators cheered you on across the finish line.
Volunteers at the end were very supportive offering you a much needed glass of water, a banana for energy, cool technical t-shirt and a very good-looking medal featuring pictures of the vehicles found around the airbase!
Overall, the race was enjoyable and I felt good after finishing it, however I think next time I would definitely train more as although I got a personal best, I felt could have done better if I’d done more than the one practice run the week before!!
To find out more about the Purple Patch events Laura and Nicola will be taking part in throughout the year, visit: www.purplepatchrunning.com/index.php/events