I decided to go up north and run the Saltwell 10k this year because it was the 100th anniversary of England’s oldest road race. It’s a pretty special race within my family after my dad won it 16 years on the trot- I thought it was 17 but looking at the program it was 16, from 1974 to 1989. That’s some going though! Just to be fit and running for 16 consecutive years is good going never mind seeing off the challengers every year and winning.
He shares the world record with 2 other runners for most consecutive wins of an annual race, the other two, one is American in a marathon and one is South African in a 15k. I’m not sure if they’re still running to better their own streak’s though. His record for the original course is 29:14- this doesn’t sound too fast but Chowdene Bank is around a mile long uphill so it’s certainly worth faster but times were never important, it was just about winning.
I won the event back in 2007 and 2008 and that was the end of my streak but I wanted to go back and try and get my name on the trophy one more time.
Unfortunately the old course is no longer ran due to the cost to close the roads so a new course was brought in back in the early 2000’s, maybe 2002. The new course loops round Saltwell Park 3 times taking in a couple of hills each lap so it’s pretty challenging.
Off the back of the Europeans I was quite tired so I took things easy during the week and I didn’t want to go too hard in Saltwell and kind of hoped nobody would take it out too hard on the downhill start. Thankfully that’s the way it went, Rich Morrell took up the early running at 5 min mile pace so I was just happy to follow. After a couple of miles I just continued on at that pace and he dropped back a little. I felt quite controlled and relaxed at that pace so I didn’t ease off and I just enjoyed the experience of running round.
I still had to keep pushing as at the time I didn’t know how quick I was going and it can be deceiving when you’re going up hills, I find sometimes I get the feeling I’m going quite slow, which I probably am!
On my 3rd lap I had a check behind and couldn’t see Rich so I just kept a nice tempo round to complete my 3rd lap and then begin the final downhill 800m to the finish. I picked up the leg speed over the final 400m just to work on the strong finish. It’s a good job I did because when I crossed the line someone shouted I’d broken the course record. I had no idea what the record was but I’m told it was my own from 2008 (31:08). That was an added bonus to hear that and shows I was moving quite well when relaxed.
In the end I won in 30:57 with Matt Armstrong of Coventry in 2nd 32:01 and Rich Morrell 3rd in 33:37 after he struggled badly with cramp, which was unfortunate as he was in 2nd with 1k to go.
I even got a ‘well done’ from my dad which is a rare occasion so I think he might have been a tiny bit proud on Saturday morning!
Now I’m going to crack on with some training over Christmas before Edinburgh XC on the 7th Jan.