Monday 1st May 2017

By Aaron Chai

The previous run reports written by members of SHAEF Shifters have covered marathons near and far, plus the occasional ultra. Allow me to report on a slightly less taxing race distance (but also challenging enough for the most seasoned runner)— the humble 10k.

Yes, Shinfield hosts their annual 10k event every Early May Bank Holiday for the past 30 or so years. Now organised by Reading Roadrunners (our running club in Reading), it normally boasts a field size of over 700 runners of all sorts of abilities.

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I’ve run Shinfield 10k twice previously and enjoy the event a lot. It’s organised extremely well and the marshals are very supportive of all runners. When it comes to the marathon, I really enjoy a big scale event like a London or New York because of the support, crowds and atmosphere — you need it as you’re out there for a long time. For a 10k, however, I prefer the smaller, local, low-key events, mainly because it’s over so quickly and that larger 10k events cost more to enter (why pay £45 to enter a 10k race when you could do it for just £11).

Having come off the back of Brighton Marathon a few weeks earlier, the intention was to run this hard, similar to what I did at parkrun a couple of days prior to the 10k, to get a fitness baseline for the summer months. However, we didn’t arrive at race HQ until 30 mins from the start (which meant collecting race number, changing, dropping bag off, last minute toilet visit and warmup) and having to start at the back of the field scuppered any hope of running a fast time. So, for the first km, I was mostly trying to weave around runners (even Louise was hot on my heels). And my revised approach to racing was to pass as many people as possible, chase down any Roadrunners in green vests and not get overtaken by anyone.

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After the first mile of congestion and a narrow route through a housing development, I managed to find more space and my racing legs, and I was helped by a nice downhill section on quiet country roads. That didn’t last long as miles 3 and 4 had a couple of long inclines that reduced me to a steady pace, although I still managed to continue overtaking other runners as per the plan. I reached the half-way point in approximately 22 mins.

One runner that I managed to catch decided to keep with me (or maybe I slowed down!) and even put in a surge to get rid of me. I thought about letting him go as the current pace was around the limit I could sustain to the finish, but I managed to convince myself to stay with him and even put in a few surges myself. So, for a few seconds, I pushed the pace, then coasted for a small amount of time, then surged again. I was aware that he was trying to keep up with me but over time I managed to extend the gap.

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At the end I finished in a congestion-adjusted time of 42:54 — not a bad time considering I had to use the elbows a bit at the start. Nice negative split in the second half and I reckon I could’ve run a 41-something had I started nearer to the front. Louise finished in 54:22, her second best 10km time, and her intention was to keep a consistent race pace of 9 min/miles — she actually went a little faster than that!

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Coupled with a 19:47 Reading parkrun, I’ve got a better idea of my current fitness and what my various training paces ought to be for my next training cycle. It was also time to retire my Mizuno Wave Inspire 11 trainers, having accumulated nearly 1,500 km in training. Two new pairs (Brooks Ravenna 7 and Mizuno Wave Inspire 13) have recently joined the shoe rack and will make their debuts very soon (I traditionally stick to what I’m comfortable with and at the moment it’s these brands, however if you have a shoe recommendation, I might be persuaded to give them a go).

It was another successful Shinfield this year, and this time all runners received a medal upon finishing. There was a fair bit of controversy last year when runners received a towel (with some strange humour) instead of a medal, causing no end of criticism from certain runners who were expecting (it was promised on the website) a medal instead.

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Personally, I’d be more happier with a towel as it has so many practical uses, but the organisers took the criticism to heart and reverted back to the standard formula! The towel I scored last year now has pride of place in the shower, used to wipe down the interior afterwards.

In summary…..

Number of green vests passed: 32.

Number of overtakers: 0.

Verdict: Never ceases to disappoint on May Day. Shame about the lack of towel.