The Bognor Prom 10k is firmly in the calendar in our household. It’s a great excuse to go to the seaside to see my parents and also get a little 10k race in as well. I’m not sure if I like 10k races. They’re nice and quick which is good, but they really hurt - which isn’t so good! After taking part in 2004 and every year since this was my ninth consecutive running of the race.
With a large proportion of the race taking part on the exposed promonade by the sea the weather plays an important part in this race. On many an occasion I’ve had to run into a horrendous headwind for the final 4km which really isn’t much fun. This year however I’d say the weather conditions were perfect. It was cool and with a NNE wind which gave a little helping hand during the second half of the race. This was very very welcome!
I had a bit of a pre-race plan for today… The aim was push hard and try and get through 5k in around 18:15-18:30 (I’ve run a couple of 18:15 parkrun 5k’s over recent weeks so this should be OK) and see what happens during the second half. I was more than willing to ‘blow up’ and have a nightmare towards the end.
My current 10k personal best is 38:03 from last years Bognor Prom 10k. I did run a 37:56 at the Saucony 10k in March but this was apparently a ‘Short 10k’ according to the Power Of Ten website. As the course doesn’t have an official certified course then I guess it can be open to interpretation. The Bognor Prom 10k course is officially measured and has a certificate to that effect.
Another thing in the back of my mind was a discussion I had in the pub on Thursday evening with one of my Dad’s friends. Over the past few days my parents had decided to try and raise a little sponsorship money to help support the Fernhurst Centre Cancer Unit at St. Richards Hospital in Chichester where my mum has unfortunately been spending some time over the past few months. One of the chaps in the pub gave me five pounds and said if I finished in the top 20 he’d give another 20 pounds. Last year I finished 21st….
I set off close to the front of the pack and ran hard from the ‘gun.’ The first km is always fast and I’ve learnt that you need to push pretty hard early on as the course has about four turns (with one of them being a 180 degree turn) very early on. I dug in and didn’t get held back at all or have to change my course during this opening part of the race. I did notice early on that it didn’t seem that busy, even though over 1,800 people had entered the race (I found out later that there were 1,497 finishers). I guess they were almost all behind me.
At the 180 degree turnaround I counted that I was in around 21st/22nd position. Hmmmn.
I’ve talked about the great support on the course many times in the past so won’t repeat it but it lived up to my usual expectations. As I know quite a few people around the course I did get plenty of ‘Go David’ shouts from friends.
The first km was run in approx 3:34 (35:40 pace - a little quick!!!). I then eased off (if you can call it that) and settled into a pace in the 3:40 range. That was more like it. The only person I was able to ‘draft’ off of was a chap about a foot shorter than me (this is usually the case!) from Portsmouth Joggers. He was flying and running a great steady pace. We ended up running almost all of the race together until he opened a slight lead in the final km.
I went through 5km in around 18:25 and although it was hard work I wasn’t at deaths door (which is a good thing in a 10k race!). At around 5.5km you head back up onto the promenade for the run back to the finish. I ran very close to the Portsmouth Jogger (let’s call him Martin - as that’s his name) and after passing the cheers of support from Felpham Sailing Club (where I’m a member) I muttered to him “I don’t know anyone else from here on in so we’ll get some peace and quiet now!” Famous last words.Well, within 30 seconds I got another cheer of support!!
From 7km to about 8.5km there’s not much on course support which is probably a good thing as you just need to get your head down and get on with it.
The final 500m is brilliant - there’s so much support on both sides of the road and although I was in a dark place, I knew it would be finished soon enough. I had last looked at my watch at about 9km and thought I’d be close to 37 minutes (wow!) but when I crossed the line in 36:44 I couldn’t believe it. A 79 second personal best time!
Looking at my splits (courtesy of my GPS) my km’s were… 3:34, 3:41, 3:48, 3:38, 3:44, 3:44, 3:36, 3:45, 3:36 and 3:36. Pretty consistent. There was a tailwind in the latter part of the race but then it was much harder to maintain that pace.
In the overall results I ended up finishing 13th overall out of 1,497 finishers. Wow. This was great news - especially as I was in the top 20 and raised a little extra cash towards a good cause.