Sat 5th August, Bury St. Edmunds
This event was held alongside the Centurions St. Edmunds 100 mile 24 hour and 50 mile races.
A 4pm start on a 10 x 2 mile lap around cycle paths; the longer races already underway and earlier rain clearing.
I’d entered this some time ago anticipating more distance training in preparation but injury restricted me to one longer walk of 18 miles the previous weekend - really to see if this was sensible. I’ve put in a lot of miles, several weeks of 50-60, but getting in more than 9 in a morning before work is difficult!
The race underway, early leaders disappeared around the corner and my inexperience meant I set off a bit quickly. Having eased away from my own company on the first lap I spent the next laps passing the 50 and 100 mile walkers. It's fair to say I was not prepared for the mental endurance needed ahead and in an event like this you really need support - especially for food and drinks. I missed one planned opportunity because my drinks were moved and I lost time over the second half stopping to drink and eat rather than try to do it on the move. All good experience though.
I had a couple of yellow cards in the first 8 miles and from then on knew I was gradually slowing. I got to halfway thinking a disqualification might be the kindest thing.
10-16 felt a very long way and I was grateful for the benevolent nods from a couple of judges. The frequent placing of these, some very stony faced, requires your constant concentration on technique.
At 16 miles I was lapped by the race leader but soon afterwards myself lapped a walker I’d raced early on. I could relax a bit as I’d spent 3 hours thinking he was on my heels ready to reel me in. Later, Strava flyby showed he’d been very close behind until halfway. Glad I couldn’t see any of that.
I can’t say I enjoyed the final lap, but I’d promised myself I would, able to thank marshalls I’d seen many times and half smile at the judge. It was the hardest race I’ve done. Relentless, and for a previous shorter distance runner mentally challenging.
I crossed the line 4th in 3:32:17 - 3rd in the mens race, won by a Dutchman in 2:58
I averaged a pace of 10:36 (My 10 mile split of 1:38:27 was 9:50 pace which was encouraging - but shows the slowing)
This race included the BMAF 20M Championship, I'm not a BMAF member, so didn't count in the result. I think I will join.
Finishing with the hardcore 100 milers now about 8 hours into their race the thought of that distance was beyond comprehension. A race like this with a small field means finishers are very spread out. I chatted to 2 of the people who finished ahead of me in the 20 mile, later being told they were Olympians - Ian Richards who did the 50k walk in Moscow, and Lisa (Langford) Kehler who walked 10k in Barcelona and 20k in Sydney.
I went back to the deserted leisure centre to pick up my commemorative medal. I don’t collect these but will be keeping this one.
Congratulations Dave. That is an incredible walking pace over that distance! Well done.
Well done David - fantastic results and amazing how quickly you have taken to race-walking. As someone who walks fast everywhere (probably something to do with having an always in a hurry mother and a Dalmatian when I was a child) I know that it uses completely different muscles and the thought of maintaining my fastest walking pace for the sort of distances you are doing is quite frankly painful! My shins hurt now just thinking about it!
However, I do expect that when I have run my last step I will also take up walking instead, but it will be of the long distance off road with a map and a picnic and a dog for company variety!
Well done David, great result and an excellent write up!
Congratulations David! Was this the county champs? If so, congratulations on winning the title.