Marston Forest 5k Race Report

Now this was something a bit different, a race on a Friday night.

7:30 was the start time, which was a first for me.  I’ve done a lot of training of an evening, but never raced before.

Friday night is normally about maybe having a can or 2 indoors, and being asleep on the sofa by 8pm – I’m just that rock ‘n’ roll.  After a full week of work, I’m certainly not up for much at all, going out is generally avoided at all costs.

It had been a busy week – a full week in the office, which was a bit of a chore after a week of being on holiday.  The week away had generally been full of eating and drinking lots of lovely things, and not really doing any running.  I did run a 10k training run last weekend, which is the furthest I’ve ran since the start of May.  We also did a session on Wednesday night, which featured a 1 mile time trial.  I ran a mile in 7:02, which is the quickest I’ve ever ran a mile by 20seconds.  Probably not the best preparation for a race, but I guess you have to take these things as they come along.

I left work slightly earlier than the normal 5:30, to be back to the village to be picked up by my running buddy Tom.  We got to Marston in plenty of time, and collected out chips and race numbers.  I grabbed some safety pins (sorry Lucy!) to pin my race number to my top, and as I pulled the safety pins out the tub, one was stuck into my finger!  A brilliant start to the evening.

Tom’s little’un and better half were running the 1km kiddies fun run, which was set to start at 7:10, so we found the start of the fun run, which was at the 1km marker or the main race.  They were off promptly, and some of those kids are quick!  The first kids stormed it home in about 3:30, which is proper fast in my book.  Cathy and Henry did really well – running the entire distance at 4 year old pace.  Tom and I ran the last 100 yards or so with Cathy and Henry, and had to then run most of the 1km to the start of the race (via the loo’s!).

We placed ourselves about in the middle of the pack, and were soon off at 7:30.  In the excitement of a 5km, we started off too quickly.  I settled the pace down, and ran the first mile in 7:51, which was unsustainable.  Mile 2 was 8:41, and I managed to pick it up again, and completed mile 3 in8:26.

I crossed the line just as the official timer was ticking over 26 minutes.  As I had my chip removed, I was thanked by a nice lady for pacing her around!  I hadn’t realised that I had paced her – I knew I was running alongside her for pretty much the entire race, but hadn’t realised she was using me to pace her.  I don’ t really feel like I did anything special, but it is nice to be thanked 🙂

There’s a bit of confusion about the time of this race.  I forgot to stop my watch straight away, but my Garmin time was 26:05 (clickity).  According to the official results, my gun time and chip time were both 26:12.  I definitely wasn’t first over the starting line, so there’s definitely something wrong there!

Garmin time

Garmin time

Regardless of times, according to the official results I was 171st out of 339 finishers.  Annoyingly 2 places off of being in the top half!  Still, I’m pretty chuffed with that.  It was a race PB of 27sec, but don’t read too much into that – it’s was a lot, lot flatter than my other 5km race, but that said, it was a damn site windier – 20mph wind, and was quite exposed too.  Comparing races are like comparing apples and oranges really – difficult at best – there are more differences than similarities.

The course was also slightly over distance according to my watch – I recorded 3.14 miles, which is a smidgen further than my last (and first) 5km race, which I clocked at 3.07 miles.

Here’s me at the end of the race:

End of Marston

End of Marston

There was no medal at the end of the race, but we were presented with a nice practical memento of a water bottle:

Water bottle memento

Water bottle memento


I’d definitely run this race again.  It was well organised by the Ampthill and Flitwick Flyers.  They seem like a good bunch, very friendly and inclusive.

I’m not sure on the 5km distance though – it’s a bit short to be able to talk to anyone – 5km pace certainly isn’t conversation pace, so I did miss the social interaction with the other runners while running.  I’ve struck up conversations with people on all my other races above 5km, but I am a bit odd like that.

I’ve got a bit of an uphill struggle now – getting back up to half marathon distance in the next 3 weeks – my next race is the NSPCC half marathon in Milton Keynes on 8th July.  I’m not convinced I’ll make it, but I’m going to have a good stab at it!


First Saturday of the Month 5km

My first 5km race!

An impromptu race – I hadn’t planned on racing again quite yet, but the opportunity arose, and I suggested this race to my running buddy Tom, and we decided to go for it!

I’ve been suffering with Achilles Tendinitis since my last race – I think the marathon training, then running a half the following week probably wasn’t too clever.  As a result of the creaking Achilles, I’ve had to cut right back on the miles – only having ran 25 miles since my last race at the beginning of May.  As a result of coming back from injury, I wasn’t too worried about times today, so wasn’t putting myself under pressure to race particularly hard – not that that’s really my style anyway!

This was a small race, organised by the North Herts Road Runners.  I’ve ran some of their races before – the Standalone 10k, and the Greenway Challenge are NHRR races, and they are always well organised, and come across as a very friendly bunch.

The race is ran on the first Saturday of every month, and normally pulls in between 40 and 60 runners.  Times vary quite a bit, between super fast 18:00, with the back runner normally coming home in about 36:00.  We hoped to be somewhere in the middle.

The race HQ was a small table in the car park at Letchworth outdoor swimming pool, and it was a damp and cool morning.  It had been wet overnight, so we were expecting it to be slippery underfoot, with some mud in places.  Tom and I signed up, paid our £2 each, then went back to sit in the car to stay warm for a bit, as we were quite early.

There was nothing quite so formal as a race number, we were told to just tell them our number at the end, and were recommended to write the number on the back of our hands to remember.  Lucky 409:

Lucky 409!

Lucky 409!

I took a photo of my shiny new shoes, as they’ve only done about 7 dry miles before race, so were pretty much new out the box.

New shoes

New shoes

The start time of 9am was soon approaching, so we went to line up with the other runners.  Being such a small informal race, there was no chip timing, and with a call of 3-2-1 we were off.  I think the official race time was recorded on the iPhone of one the NHRR organisers!

We started off quickly and excitedly.  I looked down at my watch, and I was running at 6:30 per mile, which is far too fast, and completely unsustainable for me.  I slowed it down a bit, but the first mile passed in 7:59 – still a bit too quick.

The race was 2 laps of Norton Common, which is actually surprisingly undulating, for what, on the face of it, seems like it should be a nice flat park.  On the second lap, I had to make a pit stop in the bushes.  Unfortunately, I’d misjudged the hydration requirement for such a short race, and the lack of toilets at the start didn’t help!  A quick wee and a close brush with some rather fierce looking stinging nettles, and I was soon off again.  I think the stop probably cost me about half a minute, but needs must!  At least I didn’t have to “do a Paula”!

The hill on the second lap was a real struggle – I’d definitely over cooked it on the first lap, so was starting to slow.  Towards the end, I passed one of the marshalls and she called out, “the worst is behind you!”, but what I heard was “there’s no-one behind you”, so had a bit of a grump on now!

I was soon crossing the finishing line, and stopped my watch.

Finishing time - 26:32

Finishing time – 26:32

26:32 – not too bad.  I have ran 5km in training a couple of minutes quicker, but on the flat, and not having to stop in the bushes.  So all in all, pretty pleased with my performance, but still leaving room for improvement.

Here are my shoes after the race – I feel less like a newbie now!

Shoes - after

Shoes – after


Next race is the Marston 5km on 15th June.

Here’s my Garmin data for the stats fans.