Allesley Festival 5K – a battle finally won – Stewart Boulton

An epic tale of perseverance and final victory…

Allesley Festival 5K                            13th July 2008

Now let me tell you a story of a great battle…

This Race, The Allesley Festival 5K, had become my Arch Enemy.

In my 5 years of running, I have TEMPTED and FAILED to run this race every year.  Each year something would happen to deny my participation…  Work, Travel, Illness…

Even last year, when everything seem to be going OK just weeks before the race, I slipped on a squash court, sprained my ankle and burst the blood vessels in my foot and couldn’t run for almost 2 months.  I ended up going to the race but only to WATCH as a wounded spectator even though I had paid and entered in advance.

This year, because of the curse, I decided to only enter on the day, as I knew the moment I posted my application form, I would be hit by a 10ton truck walking back from the letter-box!  So this year, as I lay nervously on my bed the night before the race, half expecting a Jumbo Jet to crash land on my house, I decided to approach tomorrows race with great caution…. As this year, to make things even worse, it was being held on the 13th!

So next morning, I drove to Allesley village green VERY CAREFULLY ensuring I didn’t crash en route.  Once I arrived, I handed over my pennies and entered the race without any problems… it was finally going to happen!  In fact, the whole race went splendidly… and was eventually well worth the wait…

The majority of this course was hilly.  It began uphill on the appropriately named “Staircase” Lane, followed by a couple of main roads… and then, just past the midway point, we were confronted with our second hill, a long incline up to the also appropriately named Coventry Hill Hotel.  This was the biggest challenge of the race and was the point where you lost valuable seconds off your time.  Once you reached the top facing the hotel, you then did a sweeping “U” turn onto the final road that led you back to the village green.  This was downhill (about time!) and a fast home straight to the finish line.

Almost throughout this entire race, I had one particular chap competing against me as we challenged shoulder to shoulder, constantly jostling for position on every straight and bend.  My arch-enemy race… now had a face!  It wasn’t until that last hill up to the hotel that I managed to get a shred of light between us.  Fortunately, I managed to keep this slim lead along the final stretch as I finished in a disappointing time of 21:42, but this was mainly due to the demanding course.

The guy I had been competing with for the last 20 minutes turned out to be a really nice chap as we chatted for about 10 minutes afterwards.  Sometimes running can feel a lonely sport so these “brief encounters”, meeting new runners after events, is what helps bring a “human face” to our obsession after dozens of hours of solo missions.

What made this race even more special for me though (and finally well worth the wait) is that I finished in 6th place, my highest, and first ever Top 10 finish in any race.

I had finally won a battle with my ongoing conflict with the Allesley 5K….

ALLESLEY    4    STEWY    1

Stewart Boulton