My first race of the year! The Winslow 10k run is a nice, local running event organised by the Winslow Lions and raising money for local schools, causes and charities. The route is all on road but goes through some rather nice villages on the way and 2015 had around 280 people running it.
The race has a rather civilized start time of 10.30am and I had the luxury of being driven to the race by a running club friend. She arrived nice and early so we had plenty of time to park, use the facilities and drop our bags off.
The event HQ was in a local primary school, with the start line about 5 minutes walk away. It was a pretty cold morning, quite bitter and grey, so we kept warm in the school hall until 10.15 when we decided we really needed to get outside and do some warm ups. So off we went, lunging and swinging our arms just to keep the chill out. I knew once I started running I’d be fine, it’s just the waiting.
At the start line a woman said to us “are you ready for the big hill”? Now I hadn’t really looked at the course in detail but didn’t think Winslow had many hills so I was a bit surprised at her comment. Apparently this big hill was near the end so I had this in mind as the whistle went and we got running.
I probably started a bit further back than I should have done as I felt I was a bit slow to start and I didn’t really find my pace until it thinned out after half a mile or so. However, once I got going I settled into a nice steady run and was surprised at how quickly the first km marker appeared.
The route leaves Winslow and follows the road down to Verney Junction and the Claydons. If you are a fan of John Betjeman or if you have watched his film Metroland you’ll probably have heard of Verney Junction as it was the former final station of the Metropolitan line. There’s no sign of a station now but there are still railway tracks which we ran past. We also ran over a river and passed a few small lakes.
The route was fairly quiet but there were still spectators, mainly from the comfort of their homes, and there were one or two houses with children waving frantically from the windows. There was one village where the residents braved the cold to bang on cowbells and saucepan lids as we passed by, making me feel like I should be on a bicycle in France.
It was very clearly marshaled, with water stations at around the 4k and 7k marks. The marshals did a particularly good job in the last third of the route when the roads started to get a bit busier and several cars were trying to pass the runners in both directions. Even on the twisty parts with cars crawling by us I felt safe.
At 9k the route leads back into the town and there is a slight hill for about 400m. Afterwards we thought that this was probably the big hill the woman told us about at the start. If you run hills regularly or have done some rather hilly races (the Cotswold Classic for instance) then this will not feel like a big hill. However, if you usually run on the flat then you may find the route a bit challenging at times, particularly the last kilometer.
The finish is a nice simple one, no surprise laps of the sports field, just a straight forward run through the funnel and you are done. The Winslow 10k is not a chipped race so the times are done manually and once you cross the finish line you are kept in strict finishing order by the volunteers.
I was very pleased with my finish time of 56 minutes 54 seconds. I kept a fairly steady pace throughout and felt I could have gone on for a bit longer. Not only that but I took just over a minute off my previous PB of 57 minutes 56 seconds, which is another minute closer to my 2015 goal of getting to 55 minutes for a 10k.
All in all I would recommend the Winslow 10k. It’s a nice, low key event which goes through some rather pretty villages on mainly flat roads. It’s well organised, cheap to enter (only £10 for affiliated runners) and you are supporting the local charities. You don’t get a medal but do get a t-shirt. Unfortunately, they had run out of my size by the time I finished so rather than take a shirt I wouldn’t wear I took a photo instead!