Poole 10k: That race you do time & time again

Running round this lake has inspired me, made me a stronger runner and broken me in equal measures.  This is the place I ran my first ever race of a mile at 8 years old, my first ever 10k and my current 10k PB.

This was the sunrise over Poole Park last Sunday morning – it was going to be a warm day.Poole Park

The Poole Festival of Running has been going for as long as I can remember.  Each year, on the first Sunday in June, Poole Runners host a series of races in the park, from children’s 1 or 1.5 mile ‘Minithons’ for 8-14 years olds to 5k or 10k races for 15+.  It’s a real family day out and I’m hugely supportive of any event that encourages participation at all ages.  The only problem with the 10k is that it’s the last race of the day, and therefore doesn’t start until 2pm, which is something I think they’ve got wrong.

The 10k is positioned as the main event and is referred to as the ‘prestigious Poole 10k’ that attracts top international runners, club runners and fun runners.  Why on earth they decide that 2pm is a good start time for a race in June is beyond me.

Many a time has the sun been high in the sky as runners wilt helplessly below, visions of water dancing before them, wishing it could have been a 9am start. However, that doesn’t stop nearly 1,000 people taking part each year and it was the festivals’ 34th anniversary last week so they must be doing something right!

The Boating Lake

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I think this was my 9th Poole 10k.  there’ll always be that one race you’ll do time and time again and this is mine, I have more Poole 10k t-shirts than I know what to do with!  The first was in 2003, I don’t really remember it but I’m pretty sure Dad did it with me and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.  I can’t find any results older than 2010 so I have no idea what time I did but I was over the moon just to have finished!

It became an annual event for me, sometimes Dad would do it, sometimes Mum would do it, sometimes it was stifling hot, sometimes it was raining, one year I ended up with a stress fracture in my foot and one year I came away with a PB I’ve still not been able to beat.  I’ve got no idea how I managed a 45.24 10k.  It was a much cooler, slightly rainy Sunday in 2011 and all I really remember was targeting a man in front of me and desperately trying to keep up with him!

After a 2 year hiatus brought about by frustration of the late start, and fact that they dropped chip timing, I found myself back in Poole for the weekend and lining up under the heat of the 2pm sun (the chip timing is now back!).

I love Poole Park, I love the local feel of this event, I love the history it has for me, I love the view, and I can’t deny it is well organised, I couldn’t stay mad at the Poole 10k for long.

This year I brought my little niece along for good luck, it was her first spectating experience and she loved it – don’t let the snoozing fool you, she was the biggest cheerer out there!  One day I’ll run the Poole 10k with Chloe…

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The course is 2 laps that weaves round Baiter, Whitecliffe and the Boating Lake in the park, they seem to think it’s pretty flat…I beg to differ!  Sure, it’s not hilly, but it’s not flat, especially for runner used to London streets – there are 2 or 3 inclines just waiting to zap your speed on each lap, laughing at your foolishness for believing it was flat…

Last Sunday was warm, very warm and I was anticipating a helpful wind on the far side of the lake (during the winter this wind can knock you sideways), but the wind never came and the sun was relentless.  I started too fast (obviously) even though I really hadn’t planned to, I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any records so just wanted to enjoy it.  I felt really comfortable so was surprised when the first mile came up at 7.33, I’d probably regret that then.

Mum’s getting better at race photography, i.e. I’m in it…and it’s not accidentally a video…

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I got progressively slower as each mile passed, cursing my eager start, and I melted in the heat, I could try to blame this on the sun and, errm, rolling hills (?!) but really it’s because I have the pacing skills of an excited puppy.  I really do.  It’s shocking.

Coming into the finish I was actually a bit quicker than I thought I might be so I wasn’t too annoyed with myself.  I met my family at the end and went in search of a Mr Whippy.  I didn’t get my Mr Whippy…the ice cream stall was manned by the slowest ice-ceam server in the world and the queue made me cry a little bit inside.  I was OK, I got over it eventually.

I’ve never had a single digit race number before!

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The course record was broken this year, an international runner from Uganda came over the line in an impressive 29.05 – I guess the ‘hills’ didn’t bother him too much then!

I randomly entered another 10k on Saturday to see if I could pace a little better, this one was held in the Chasers favourite stomping ground Battersea Park, so I knew that flat meant flat.  I ran about a minute faster…but the excited puppy inside me is still very much in charge…. *sigh*

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