The uniqueness of the Bassingham Bash 5m Road Race has now led to it becoming a bit of a staple in my race calendar, and this year saw me pinning on my race number for the third consecutive event. Set in the charming village of Bassingham, a short drive from my hometown in Lincoln, it offers a rare opportunity to race a five mile distance, as well as being held at the slightly untraditional time of 2pm on a Saturday afternoon. Its individuality is further marked by the offer a medal themed finishers mug for all runners, as opposed to traditional medal ‘bling’, a mug which is also accompanied by a slice of cake – an instant win for most runners!
Five miles is an odd distance to know how to approach; do you treat it like a 5k and then just hope to dig deep and hang in there for a couple more miles? Or is the mentality to see it as a bit shorter than a 10k, so you can afford to push slightly harder than normal? I don’t really know to be honest! I was also not really sure what to expect of myself, and after volunteering at parkrun in the morning, 2pm Saturday afternoon soon crept round and I was about to find out. I knew I was not going to hold back, despite this possibly being ill advised with 20 miles planned for Sunday morning as part of my current marathon training, and instead I just planned to go as hard as possible and see what I had in my legs. It was a pleasant afternoon, warm but not too hot, and being huddled on the start line which is set on a small village lane, stood next to my friend and among other familiar faces from the running community helped withdraw any apprehension I may have had about how to tackle the five miles ahead of me.
I really took off from the start, winding speedily through the first small loop of the course which navigated the centre of Bassingham village, and my first mile split was 6.24 min/mile. This shocked me and I knew I would struggle to sustain anything like that. I did not let this fast mile put me off though and just tried to keep a rhythm going, not doubt my abilities, and remain confident in my legs.
As we headed out onto the longer loop, which covered more rural roads set between tranquil farmland, I tried to keep in sight of a group of male runners who were in front of me and use them as a reference rather than rely too heavily on my watch. Whilst I inevitably slowed from that rapid first mile, I kept predominantly under 7 min/mile pace, except between mile 3 and 4 which featured a very minor incline, and after pushing my legs as hard as possible this felt much greater than it should!
Throughout the race my legs felt strong beneath me though, with the distance seemingly flying by, and before I knew it the village of Bassingham was reappearing, signifying the end of the race was nearing. The scattered marshals and spectators lifted me at this point and they also drew my attention to a fellow female runner who was trying to catch me a few metres away. Glancing over my shoulder as I turned one of the final corners I spotted her trying to close and this really caused me to surge. Even as a hit the final few hundred yards which are set on grass playing field, my legs did not falter and I held off the challenge, racing across the finish line and stopping the clock at 34:14. This was a new 5 mile PB for me and also over three minutes quicker than my time last year (37:17), a finish which also earned me a few handshakes from some of my male counterparts in the finish area and a friendly congratulations with my female chaser. I later found out I managed to place 6th female, which considering I am currently training for a distance event as opposed to shorter distances, I was quite pleased with!
I enjoy the relaxed feel of Bassingham Bash, and afterwards my friend and I sat on the grass for a bit and watched fellow finishers, as well as getting a print out of our time from the new chip timing system introduced this year – a great new addition. The event is a reminder that whilst large scale events can be impressive, races in their purest form can be just as enjoyable – I will be back in 2018 no doubt!
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...