Milton Keynes Half Marathon & 10K, 4 March

A report from Peter Simpson on the performances of the VRUK and VC&AC team!:

If you were praying for rain in this event, the timing was perfect. It had already started as I walked from home to my local event and was slowly but surely increasing in intensity. There was also some wind to add on, coming from a south-westerly direction. Due to my persistent knee injury from mid-January I had originally decided to enter only the 10K this year, the main event was the half marathon. The 10K started at 10.10am and the half marathon at 10.25am allowing me plenty of time for a break after finishing, before I took the opportunity for photos as our runners approached the finish of the half marathon.

New member Andy Burton also from Milton Keynes had only joined in the past fortnight and was looking forward to his first event, not just for VRUK. Despite his enthusiasm, it was tempered in the knowledge that he was suffering from leg injuries but determined to complete the course. For Duncan McNeil who joined at the beginning of the year, it was just another event and had run a half marathon the previous day in Stratford-upon-Avon. Duncan in fact is aiming to complete 12 half marathons and 12 marathons during 2012. Nik Windle was also feeling confident following his personal best performance at the Wokingham half marathon a fortnight earlier. There were also two other quality VC&AC members competing in the half and one in the 10K.

Lining up for the 10K there did not appear to be many runners keen to start near the front. Due to my injured knee it was not my intention to be competitive but there were not many attempting to overtake as we headed downhill along the V7 Saxon Street, soon spreading out. Crossing over the first big roundabout with the H6 Childs Way, the course flattened out but we also had to contend with wind in our faces. Last year it felt easy for the first 5/6 miles of the half marathon. My fitness was also limited due to lack of training, just a few runs including events since the middle of January.

Surface water was gradually becoming an issue as time went buy, particularly later as we turned off the main road onto the Newport Road, also used for the 10K from the Open University in July. Earlier we turned left off the V7 onto the V9 where we had relief from the wind and similarly turning north along Newport Road. In Woolstone estate we turned leftt and began the climb towards the centre of town and the finish outside the Xscape. I soon found any climb tiring and lost a few places. The course was soon interchanging between footpaths and cycle paths and the condition of some paths slowed us further. There was a high footbridge over a main road less than a mile from the finish otherwise we were given a little relief approaching the finish. The time of 44.55 was in truth no more than I was anticipating and my category position of 3rd V50 was rather flattering. Also running for the VC&AC was Sharon Hammond who achieved 1 hour and 38 seconds.

I did begin to feel the discomfort of the knee injury in the final two miles to add to the exhaustion and was relieved to get it over. I was looking forward to that cup of tea in the Xpresso Net cafe where they also serve soya. After the break I went outside to find the weather had worsened with heavier rain and a blustery wind from the north. Close to the finish it was difficult to position the umbrella to keep the camera dry so moved over the bridge and found somewhere with the wind to my back. Unfortunately I was not quite ready for the first of the VC&AC members, Keith Hammond who achieved a very good time of 1:26 when considering the conditions and similarly Mark Affuso of 1:28. By the time Nik Windle approached I was more alert, Nik achieving 1.50+. I immediately headed back to the finish to meet Nik but understandably he had dashed off. I thought I may have missed Duncan McNeil and with Andy Burton not anticipated for some time yet I took a break back in the Xscape. Duncan in fact finished in 1:58 and I may have missed him by seconds.

Coming back out I stood at the exit funnel and noted how many runners were numb and cold, some needed assistance removing their timing chip. Wet snow also began to fall and increase in intensity as it became progressively colder. Finally I heard the announcer say that another vegan runner was approaching the finish and despite the weather conditions plus his injury, Andy was looking delighted at the outcome. Wearing his yellow jacket around the course, he removed it before running to the finish line.

Andy is keen to run another half marathon, the St Albans in June is one event now in his diary.