Paras’ 10 Tab Review


by Tim Hill

There was a massive turnout of over a thousand for this very well organised event. There are options to just run it, and dogs are allowed to take their owners too, but the tab is the real deal.

I arrived a bit late and in the rush forgot to take some of my stuff out. Even though at weigh-in my bergen was a couple of kilograms over it was by then too late to go back to my car and off-load as it was parked at some distance.

The weather took an unexpectedly sunny turn and it was humid so as the temperature soared it meant that everyone was sweating even during the warmup. There is absolutely no chance of missing the starting gun as the Royal Horse Artillery only do big noisy ones and as the report subsided the whole mass set off at an ambitious ten-minute mile pace running through Merville Barracks and then out in to woods and fields beyond. The heat continued and by three miles in it was obvious to a great number of us that maintaining target pace was going to be a real problem and the pack started thinning out quite quickly.

By the half-way point I had resigned myself to striding and shuffling hoping to make time up running later if only I could cool down and sort my pack out on my shoulders, none of which happened. Every time I tried to start running again my shoulders would give out and I completed the last half by just making sure I was moving my legs as fast as I could as I desperately tried to get some relief to my shoulders with some smashing encouragement from all the bemused Paras who were marshalling.

There are some fun obstacles to break things up a bit, a couple of water crossings around waist height and a stinking horrible bog to wade through but by the time I got there absolutely anything cold was welcome and it was over all too quickly. The course isn’t flat but there are no challenges with a mix of tarmac, gravel track, forest trail and open field to cross. The ground is mostly level and only once did I stumble. An unfortunate few did fall by the wayside though with heat being the main culprit as well as the odd overuse injury which must be gutting after all the preparation and training.

Well over a hundred made selection time of one hour and fifty minutes – a truly admirable achievement in that heat – and one ex Royal Marine even did it in a teddy bear costume! There is a long uphill approach to the finish line which for those still running must have a bit of Black Hawk Down feel to it. As you leave the pain behind a rank of blazered veterans are there to welcome you back into the land of normal, with a few words of congratulation and handing out the token medal. All of a sudden it is over and you find yourself lying on the ground too tired to get up, too tired to get to the wealth of food and drink stalls, and certainly too tired to get to the car-park with the damn pack.

I was happy to complete it with no time lost adjusting boots or tying laces and no blisters either (wearing two socks worked wonders) but my bergen was really painful on my shoulders with the weight seemingly sitting on the edge of the straps and cutting circulation. I really should have stuck with the day-pack I had trained with but half of the problem was also down to not having done enough strength work on my shoulders and insufficient training at full weight too if I am honest. My camelback failed me too so I ended up carrying two litres of water around for no good reason and like I needed that extra weight. Other than that my back was sore afterwards where it had rubbed raw in a couple of places but I only noticed that later in the day. My legs were fine but my shoulders will stay sore for quite a while yet. Still smiling having done it though, have an epic t-shirt to show for it and next time (did I mention next time?) will be better.

On the fundraising side I am over the moon. This was something I had wanted to do for some time and I received loads of encouragement from having gone well over my target and through all the messages received. It was well worth every groan to raise that money for Mind the Mental Health Charity and I would like to thank everyone for their generous donations on my fundraising webpage.

Good Friday 10 miler review

good friday 10 miler

by Andy A

A sunny start to the Easter Weekend saw us being whisked effortlessly in Sally’s team limousine northwards to compete in the Chippenham Good Friday 10-miler. The journey north was punctuated only by the American lady on google maps telling us to turn right, which we duly did, and then find ourselves driving down someone’s driveway. Once sorted, we arrived at the rugby club in plenty of time to observe the pre-race organisation and get tips for our very own Bustard 10k.

We met up with Chandy and Carl (the Legend) and also had the opportunity of a brief chat with Philip (the Legend’s dad) before making our way to the start line. It was a pleasantly sunny morning, with a cool breeze – perfect.

Having made my way to the back I was amiably nattering to the back markers when the siren went for the start. I switched on the watch only to find the GPS wasn’t finding a signal. I had to wait until it did – not a little embarrassing, but at least I made it to the start line video here.

For the second race in a row I’d shared the rear ranks with what I can only describe as a muppet by the name of Dougal who was dressed in a red kilt. Before anybody takes issue with the lack of respect being shown to a fellow competitor, checkout his twitter account here.  Looking at his race schedule here for the next few weeks, he just demands respect. Not only that, he ran the race in under two hours dressed in that lot in that heat. Just awesome.

At my previous race (the Wiltshire 10-miler in February) I was slightly surprised by how the body somehow knows what pace to run. I was also surprised because I’d expected to take about 90 minutes and ended up doing just under 83. I couldn’t really explain why I’d done so well, but after that I ran quite a lot of training miles in March and then took it easy in April so I figured I must be fitter than before and also well rested. Therefore 80 minutes was a reasonable target. This time I was telling the body what speed it was going. Simples………

2 miles in and things were going swimmingly. I was maintaining the pace with ease, felt good and I’d already overtaken all Shrewton runners except Tim, who was about 20 seconds ahead. He was going the same pace as me, so I just kept it steady until the first drinks station at 3.5 miles. Having slowed for drinks I then found I couldn’t pick up the pace. Tim was now disappearing into the distance and it was beginning to dawn on me this was not going to be a good day.

 It wasn’t made that much better when we met the leader coming in the other direction, making it look very, very easy. He was already miles ahead of the next guy and went on to finish in about 50 minutes, which not only annihilated the course record but is probably the fastest guy I’ve raced with (loosely speaking of course) – just awesome.

The scenery was probably pleasant although obviously not spectacular as I didn’t really notice it. I didn’t notice very much to be honest, apart from how bad I was beginning to feel. By the time we got to the water stop the legs really were very heavy but kept going for another couple of miles, by which time I really was beginning to feel really quite bad. And this point I really began to question whether there was any value in pushing myself further. The decision was clinched when I considered the domestic situation where we were in the process of re-doing our lawn and were having a load of turf delivered the next day. I still had 4-5 hours of digging and levelling to do when I got back that afternoon in readiness, and it wouldn’t go down well if I arrived home in no fit state to do it. I figured I didn’t need to add ear-ache to what would undoubtedly be quite a lot of leg ache, so opted to stop running and start walking.

It wasn’t long before Carl appeared behind me looking relaxed and going well, hotly pursued by Charlotte (err, you know what mean) and only a few seconds back from them was Andrew. I did briefly think about trying to tag along, but thought better of it.

As I approached the rugby ground some chap came alongside and insisted I ran with him to the finish. The last 500m were downhill, so I managed to get the legs going again and trot to the line. Shortly afterwards, one of the chaps I’d been chatting to on the start line and who’d overtaken me close to the end came over and asked if I was ok. It’s really great to see such a nice spirit among the running community.

I guess when you have experiences like this it’s important to reflect on the negatives and the positives. On the negative side it was obviously disappointing my body wasn’t going to be told what speed it was going to run and I was also quite shocked when I realised this was my slowest ever road race. Against that, we all received a free Easter egg it was genuinely nice to be part of such a great team at such a nice event on such a nice day. The lawn looks nice too.