When I was younger and living in rural Suffolk, I used to stand at the front window of my house and watch the local running races take place. The procession of runners would head out past my window, run a loop around the countryside, and then run back past my house again to the finish. I loved watching, and always wished I could take part. Running the Bassingham Bash 5mile Road Race on Saturday last week reminded me of these races, and I felt like it was my chance to actually experience running in one after so many years of watching.
Choosing to take part in the Bassingham Bash was not hard, firstly my friend suggested it (does anyone ever turn down a running opportunity!?), secondly Bassingham is only a few minutes away from my hometown of Lincoln, thirdly the appeal of racing a 5 mile distance for the first time was a massive draw - guaranteed PB!, and lastly, and most importantly, there was cake at the finish for all runners!
Heading to a race for a 2.30pm start did feel a little odd, and by this time of day the heat had really hit a peak, so it was evident we were in for a hot race. Standing at the start line with my friend I strangely did not feel too nervous. I think this was helped by the fact that we had arrived in good time for the event, had been able to take everything in, and sit and chat for a bit - which seems to always help relax me. I did not have any time pressure on me either, having never raced the distance before, so just wanted to go out there and see what I could do.
I started the race very fast - too fast - and I knew it. I ran the first two kilometres in 4.27 min splits, and when seeing this on my watch the first thought that crossed my mind was 'I am going to severely pay for this later!' I managed to ignore this thought though, and just told myself to run as hard as I could for as long as I could, hoping this would be a reasonable strategy! The heat was intense at times, with only the odd cloud or tree offered a bit of shelter. I was therefore extremely happy to find a water station on course, where some wonderful local scouts were on duty. A young ukulele player was also positioned nearby, which brought a smile to my face. As I continued to run my kilometre splits did all get progressively slower, although I didn't suffer as much as I initially feared, instead quite enjoying the challenege of forcing my legs to keep up the pace. The payback really came when I hit the very end. The last few hundred metres were a real battle and felt like forever, and on crossing the finish line I was truly shattered! Receiving my Bassingham Bash finishers mug - a unique race 'medal' - alongside my slice of caramel flapjack was a very welcomed distraction from the tiredness that swept rapidly through my body. I was so spent I even missed what would have been a golden opportunity to take a photo of my friend finishing as she crossed the line shortly after me. I would never normally miss something like that!
My unofficial finish time on my watch was 37.32, which has since been improved to an official result of 37.30 - something I am very happy with as I definitely could not have given any more!
After finishing the race my friend and I sought some shade and watched the rest of the runners come in. We were able to spot a few faces we recognised from Twitter and the online UK Run Chat community, and I was also really happy to see so many runners stay and clap every last runner in. The Bassingham Bash did have a very supportive feel about it. I really respect the race organisers, Witham Runners, for hosting it and for doing a fantastic job, a feeling I think was felt by all those taking part. For someone who participates in races, being a runner who is able to step back and actually deliver an event for other runners is really admirable. I additionally have huge levels of awe for some of the finish times which were recorded, listening to the prizes being awarded to the winning runners it was almost unimaginable to think of running that fast. I was also a little bit jealous of some of the prizes which were given out - I could really do with a blender!
All in all, the Bassingham Bash was a wonderful local event. A great distance to test all runners, a lovely course, very well organised, and has those added quirky elements which help to make it both unique and memorable - I will be back in 2016!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...