Or “The 10k Race That Never Was”.
I’ll pre-empt this week’s entry, by admitting that it is technically about running, but I don’t want that to put you off reading. I am well aware that running blogs are often very dull (because, well, people who run regularly – and like to write about it – are themselves sinfully boring), but I wish to distinguish this entry in one important respect: no actual running took place.
Regular readers (God bless you both), or those who know me in ‘real life’, will be aware that I have set myself a challenge for 2018: to run ten 10k races for my chosen charity, Kidscan. Kidscan are based in Salford (but don’t hold that against them), and they carry out vital research into childhood cancer, so a worthier cause you could not hope to find.
You will also be aware that, until last Easter, I had not run in several years, and despite having the sort of slender physique that might lend itself to distance running (certainly more so than to, say, bodybuilding, manual labour, or attracting the opposite sex), I am definitely not a runner. In fact, it would be fair to conclude that I am to running, what Verne Troyer is to basketball. What Kim Jong-un is to haircuts. What Donald Trump is to…. well, anything really. You get the gist.
Having registered for nine of my ten races, with plenty of options for the final one later this year, the inaugural event was intended to be the Kidsgrove 10k last Sunday. Some of you will already be aware that this did not exactly go according to plan, in that it didn’t ‘go’ at all.
Booking a running race for January is risky, as the weather at the start of the year is always likely to pose a threat to the event taking place, but the organisers had cautiously set aside two ‘reserve’ dates for February, in case the conditions became too treacherous for the run to proceed as planned. Unfortunately, however, last Sunday Mother Nature decided to (literally) piss on everyone’s parade, with very little warning whatsoever.
Towards the end of last week, it became clear to all involved, that the Kidsgrove 10k was likely to take place in somewhat Baltic conditions, as temperatures were dropping faster than a hooker’s underwear, but a little cold never hurt anyone (apart from elderly people with no winter fuel allowance), so the event was certainly not in any doubt.
Furthermore, my preparations were going quite well, in that I had done a couple of practice runs around my home town of Sandbach, and could seemingly manage five miles (roughly 8k) without needing medical attention. Ok, I wasn’t going to break any records, but I was on target to finish in under fifty minutes, which is the threshold I have set myself for these ten races. In short, I was quietly confident of at the very least not dying.
Then, on Sunday morning, as my family and I set off towards Kidsgrove (which is about ten miles away), the weather quickly progressed from ‘cold drizzle’, to ‘blizzard’, to ‘fuck me’, in the space of a few minutes. And, whilst my inner nerd is always secretly delighted at the prospect of driving in sleet and snow (so I can pretend to be Han Solo, piloting the Millennium Falcon through hyperspace), on this occasion my inner nerd was firmly cocooned within the outer-shell of someone who had to go for a run, and it would be fair to say my outer shell was thoroughly pissed off with this meteorological turn of events.
I turned to Chewbacca (my wife – although I must say that she bears no resemblance to the famous wookie, even when she hasn’t shaved her legs in a few days), and expressed my dissatisfaction with the deteriorating weather; but all I gained in response, was the fact she was going to have to stand in the sleet with our two boys, whilst I at least got to run around in it to keep warm.
I thought about arguing back, along the lines that she was wearing a coat, while I was in a running top and shorts (and therefore in grave danger of losing my genitals to frostbite), but thought better of it – over the years, I have realised it is always best to let the Wookie win. I therefore apologised, wholeheartedly, for dragging her and the boys out in such terrible weather, and I promised to run my (soon to be frozen solid) arse off, so we could get back home as quickly as possible.
When we arrived at the school which had been turned into ‘Race HQ’ for the morning, it seemed most of my fellow runners were in good spirits despite the weather, which only added fuel to my argument that regular runners are, by and large, utter wankers.
I collected my race number and electronic timing chip, the latter of which I had to securely fasten to my running shoes, and began to warm up in my brand new, bespoke, charity running shirt:
I should explain, at this stage, that the organisers had decided to split the event into two start times: 10am for the ‘elite’ runners who were expecting to finish in under fifty minutes, and 11am for everyone else. Now, even though my only prior 10k had resulted in a time of 49:12, and I have set myself the unofficial target of running these ten races in under fifty minutes, I still opted to enter the 11am race to be on the safe side.
My reasoning for this, was that it would be far better to take part in the slower race, and then hopefully surprise everyone by finishing in under fifty minutes and somewhere near the front, than pushing myself to compete in the elite race, finishing stone cold last, and crying as I vomited into a bush. Besides, if I ever get to the stage of thinking I am an ‘elite’ runner, I will have become one of them: I will be a running wanker.
Anyway, at approximately 10:45am, someone with a megaphone stood on a chair, and shouted that, for safety reasons, the organisers had decided to change the course at the last minute. Essentially, the unexpected – and seemingly relentless – downpour of snow, had made some of the country paths very slippery, so the route was altered to stick to roads and pavements instead.
This didn’t really bother me. I mean, sure, I might have stayed up late the night before, memorising the intended route so that I didn’t get lost and look a complete tit, but I wasn’t going to let a last minute change of plan panic me. Nope. Not me.
Ok, maybe a little.
Then, as if I wasn’t nervous enough, I suddenly realised I had left my mp3 player in the car, and had a little under eight minutes to ‘run’ back and get it.
In jogging/skating/sliding back to the car, I suddenly realised how dangerous even the roads were, and how there was not a cat in hell’s chance of me finishing the race in under fifty minutes. In fact, if I arrived back to ‘Race HQ’ by nightfall, I’d consider that a fucking win. The weather was frankly ridiculous.
Evidently, the organisers were quickly forming the same opinion, because at precisely 11am, as we all lined up ready to start the race, megaphone man re-appeared and informed us all that the event had been cancelled. He explained that the elite wankers had just finished their 10am race, and the conditions had become so treacherous that a number had fallen (cue smug smile crossing my lips, at the mental image of some dipshit in running tights skidding face first into a wheelie bin). So, for safety reasons, they couldn’t possibly let us run.
The start line
Amazingly, despite it being cold, wet, and hazardous – not to mention the fact I really dislike running – I was honestly gutted. As well as having mentally prepared myself, I’m doing these ten races for charity, and I (rather sadistically) felt that if my first race was in shitty conditions, I was earning every donation just that little bit more. The whole point of doing this, is that it is genuinely challenging. If I was going to try and raise money by doing something I actually enjoy, I’d get people to sponsor me to eat chocolate hobnobs in my underwear.
What I will say, in hindsight, is that it was absolutely the right decision. All joking aside, one of the elite runners did require an ambulance, and although I was disappointed to go all that way in terrible weather for nothing, that was infinitely preferable to running, breaking something (and I would break something), and jeopardising the entire challenge. Plus, these guys really weren’t in the mood to stand in the snow for an hour while I ran:
So, my first race will now be at Oulton Park on 25th February, and if anyone would like to come along to support me, or better still donate to my challenge, you’ll find all the details here:
Thanks for reading.