Crowborough 10k race report 2017

Last time it took me a week to write a race report, it was because the event (Box Hill duathlon) had sapped every last bit of mental and physical energy I had. This time it's taken me a week to write a race report because, well, I've just been a bit lazy.

Anyway, better late than never. Long term, eagle-eyed readers (which is probably just my good friend SRG) will notice that the title of this race report has a year in it.

This is because, despite the Trihard blog now being five years old, it's the first time that I've written a race report for an event that I've taken part in for a second time.

I'm a name, not a number! And that name is 276

I first took part in the Crowborough 10K five years ago, when I'd just joined EGTri. In those intervening years a lot has changed.

I've taken on longer distances (quite a few half marathons and a half iron distance triathlon), have become a lot more "serious" in my approach to training and over the last six months have lost a considerable amount of weight by cutting out alcohol and being a lot more disciplined about my diet.

However, despite this I feel that over shorter distances I have actually got slower over the last five years. So I have made it my goal this year to do as many races (both running events and triathlons) to see whether my new monastic style of living is having the desired effect!

So first up, as I say, was the Crowborough 10k.

Looking back on my previous race report (which you can read here) there are lots of things that have changed since I last entered the event. I mention about how I'd listen to music during races and training to keep me motivated (I even did a product review of sweatproof headphones).

However I stopped doing that years ago (music used to distract me from the pain of running but then I think I just found it too much of a distraction, especially when your earphones are falling out every few minutes and you are trying to regulate your breathing.

Perhaps it was this event where I decided to ditch the earphones for good?

But in short, over the last five years I guess I've just become one of those serious triathlon w*nkers!

I have to confess that there have been several times over the last half a decade that I have been tempted to give the Crowborough 10k another go.

However I've always wimped out. Why? Because it's a pretty damned hard race. You can read more about the course from my course reconnaissance I did prior to the race five years ago but essentially, it starts at the top of the hill.

This is the sort of data triathlon w*nkers get sexually excited by

Which is great, because you fly on the first few kilometers. But then, quelle surprise, you have to run back up the hill. And you have to do it twice as it's a two lap route.

Oh, and you also have the option of running through a chilly fjord that trickles through the bottom of the hill.

Relaxing foot-bath

Now obviously from my Box Hill adventures I'm quite hill hardy so thought now was a good a time as any to give it another go. While I wanted to beat my previous time, my main goal was to get up the hill without walking, as I had to do on both loops. Hopefully this would then ensure I'd beat my time.

After re-reading my race report, my past self told me that I could have perhaps taken the downhill section a bit harder. So as we set off I took my own advice and flew down the hill at quite a pace and whizzed through those first few kilometres.

And then, after opting not to take a foot-bath and taking the bridge over the fjord, I reached base camp. And immediately cursed myself for taking advice from that idiot Mr Trihard, the ghost of Christmas past.

The hill was soooooo much tougher than I remembered. It wasn't quite as far as going up Box Hill but it was considerably steeper.

This doesn't do it justice...

Lots of other runners that I was with (who I was pleased to say looked more serious runners than the ones I'd been with five years ago, so I was obviously running a bit further up the pack) stopped to walk. Obviously the thought flashed through my head - shall I take it easy and walk also?

"NO!!!" I told myself and struggled on. I eventually made it to the top, with my lungs burning and my legs aching but I hadn't walked. This time I ignored my previous advice and went a bit slower down the hill, saving  my legs for the second ascent which I was thinking I might not get up a second time.

Braving the fjord this time, I dug deep and soldiered on. Several competitors and spectators congratulated me as I carried on "running" (at a snail's pace) when may others had stopped to walk. Again my lungs started to burn and I wanted to stop but I kept going. As I reached the summit, I had something of an epiphany.

Re-reading my previous race report something else had struck me. I mentioned where I'd finished in the race, something I don't think I've done since.

But at the time, due to the nature of the course and the fact that there were a lot of serious runners, I was seriously concerned about coming last (something I hate saying, because someone has to come last and hats off to those that keep going knowing they are last. That shows real mental toughness and fortitude).

I delightedly announced that I finished 327th out of 386. As I got up the hill it occurred to me that my time didn't matter. Where I finished didn't matter.

What mattered was the five years in between where I've trained regularly and pushed myself  well beyond what I thought I was capable of.

I may have to write a bit more about it in a future post but recently I keep thinking about how I got into running, cycling and triathlon events.

I played football regulalry from between the ages of 11 and 16 but I've never been what you would call athletically gifted. After receiving some severance pay from a redundancy in my early 20s and decided to buy a mountain bike which more or less collected dust. One week, when I was temping in London I discovered I couldn't afford to buy a travel card so had no option but to cycle.

I got to work, after cycling seven miles across the capital, feeling amazing, and haven't looked back since. So I often think about how if I had been able to buy that travel card, I wouldn't be writing this blog now.

So as I got up the hill it really hit me that in five years it's highly unlikely that I'll be winning the Crowborough 10k. What is likely is that I'll be getting up the hill quicker than previous attempts and that'll be another performance that I'll be extremely proud of.

And that's what it's all about - steadily and incrementally improving yourself, regardless of how or when you started, regardless of the pace or distance you are capable of in the here and now.

So with this epiphany I charged on, rounding the corner for the final brutal ascent. I could see the finishing clock was on 55 minutes and ticking towards 56 minutes. If I put a shift in I could crack 55 minutes, which I would have thought was an impossible time five years ago.

I broke into one final, painful uphill sprint, overtaking a competitor that had been in front of me the entire race (yes I know it's not important but I still have some ego!) and did one of those swooping dipping things at the final to get in under 56 minutes.

My final chip time was 54 mins 45 secs (gun time 54 mins 56 secs) so I well and truly smashed my previous time. And for the sake of consistency, I finished 232nd out of 378.

Another medal I'm incredibly proud of


The greatest hits...