On 13 May 2018 i took part in the Henley 10K trail run, starting near the Heley Royal Regatta start line and doing a single 10K loop back to the start. there’s also a Half Marathon option, but in May i was still gaining my running legs and on the Trails i had no race experience.
Elevation and my pace chart
Up to race day the organisation was pretty good. It is a modest sized turnout with about 150-200 runners in the 10Km race.
Upon arrival registration was in a different location to that advertised or at least it seemed. but that was easily resolved as the site was small. The biggest challenge was finding the car park. If you aren’t familiar with the place you might well end up a bot lost. i saw a whole bunch of cars going around in a few circles. That’s the risk with country sat nav guidance – it’s commonly a little erratic.
After registration the start line was easily found (big sign saying ‘START’ !
prior to race start the race briefing was tricky as there was no microphone or loud haler working so it wasn’t the easiest to hear, but in a small group the message should have been clear enough.
The 10Km runners then split from the HM runners (who start further along the track and after the 10Km runners).
From the start of the race we have a lead cyclist taking us out. the signs are pretty clear and everything goes well. it’s longish grass along the side of the river for the first stretch.
We then take a right turn onto a track at around 2Km. From 2.5Km theres the start of a 0.5Km hill section, with up to 15% gradients. At 3Km there was a sign indicating the distance so far but this was misleading as it said 14Km or something like that. there were a couple of signs on the course that had distances which were clearly inaccurate. (at 2Km there was a 4Km sign) Theres then a drop and around 1Km of easy running before the main hill a 1.2Km 150ft elevation hill with gradients up to 7%.
At the end of the incline you are at the highest point of the run. You are also at a main road and a T-Junction. at this point there was also no obvious sign. thankfully i was close enough to other runners who seemed to know to turn right and head down hill. this was correct, but it could have been a bit confusing.
The hill was quite steep so good to catch up some speed from the hills. At the bottom of the hill there’s a right turn, a marshal was there indicating to take the turn through an alleyway.
At the end of the alley you are back on the Thames path. You run along towards the start area again, but go past the start (and Finish line). You actually run about 0.8Km past the finish line, turn right along a hedge line and then right again along the site entry road, past the car park and eventually hit the finishing straight and smash through the tape.
During the race the signage towards the end was not as clear as required and 10 runners didn’t run the 0.8Km past the finish line, right then right by the hedge etc. they instead took a tighter turn back to the finish line, and ended the race over a Km short. As they didn’t finish the race fully their times were discounted.
My race analysis:
This was my first 10Km race of any sort (trail or otherwise). I was a good fun race but the hills were harder than expected. I didn’t get a 10Km PB on the day but the hills put paid to that. overall i finished the race on the day in 11th position, far better than expected (I had hoped to be top 50%). Now, due to the 10 runners being ruled out due to the course issue, I ended up being awarded 1st place. I didn’t set out to achieve that but was utterly amazed to get the first place overall.
Would i do the race again – absolutely, though I would probably try the half marathon next time. It’s a great location, and with a little bit tighter signage/marshaling on the course it could be a perfect race day.
This is the first place make prize I won: