Swansea half, aftermath

2015-10-07, , , Comments

Clocking a sub-80 half marathon at Swansea was my finest running performance in 2014. Things were bound to cool off after that. Just four days later I showed up for the Purdown Pursuit, the final event of the Tach summer series. The race started late and required re-routing; it was a sweltering evening and there’d been a fire on the course. I took the downhill sections cautiously on sore legs but still managed 4th place with a time of 42.39.

A couple of weeks later I finished 5th at the Blaise Blazer mob match. It’s one of my favourite races and I set a personal best for the course of 23.51, picking runners off steadily in the final stages then holding on in the final sprint from the top of the steps to the folly. Southville RC put on a spirited defence of the team prize we’d won the year before and, once the results had been counted and checked, to our surprise, it was announced we’d retained the trophy. Later that evening after a recount the results were corrected; Westbury Harriers had, in fact, wrested the coveted Blazer Cup from our grasp.

My mistake was not resting up over the summer. I wanted to go under 80 minutes for a second time at the Cardiff half marathon, a far more established and prestigious event than the one I’d run in Swansea, and one at which friends from both Bristol and South Wales would compete. On the Monday before the race I tweaked my hamstring towards the end of a track session with Bristol & West at Whitehall. Not good. During the remainder of the week I rested before lining up on Sunday in Cardiff ready to race. I stormed the first mile in 5:40, hit a similar pace for the second, and then felt the injury ping. I pulled up and walked along the pavement, assessing the damage. I figured I could at least jog around the barrage to the Senedd but I couldn’t. Instead I ended up limping from Pennarth to the centre, reaching the baggage collection around the time I should have been finishing.

Masters XC 2015 by Alex Williams

I didn’t race again until the combined Welsh Inter-regional and Welsh Masters cross country championships. This is a proper cross-country course featuring mud, meadows, woodland tracks, slopes. The weather played its part: rain during the week and freezing temperatures on the day filled the puddles with ice; grass sparkled with frost as the sun broke through. I ran a measured race ending up with an individual silver in the MV50 category just two seconds behind Peter Coles, the category winner. I did get a gold medal as one of Swansea Harriers’ winning MV50 team. In the inter-regional competition, we came second, I think. There are so many competitions being run in the same race it’s hard to remember. What I do remember thinking is, what a shame such a great event gets such a low turnout. In an age where people part with serious money to tackle military-themed tough guy obstacle courses, for just a couple of quid you get to represent club and region on a challenging course in a fabulous setting.

Welsh Masters XC 2014, Swansea Harriers gold medal V50 team

The moustache, by the way, was for movember