Wyvern 10k – a quick review

On Saturday, I ran the 2nd Southampton parkrun on Southampton Common. As Event Director, I’d lost some sleep over how well the inaugural event would go and still had worries about the 2nd event. However, as a running participant, I’m pleased to say that those fears have largely dissipated as the potential issues I had really aren’t issues. It was great to run the event and see that the course coped well with almost 200 runners (198 in fact).

I had to rush off straight after my run to go and set up for the mini-parkruns being held at Royal Victoria Country Park. The latter event held some good promise as a means of promoting parkrun but the weather was awful and there was such a poor turnout that we finished up early and went home.

The last race I did was the Olympic Park Run (5 miles) and previous to that it was the Eastleigh 10K.

Yesterday (Sunday 15th) I ran a brand new 10K race, the Wyvern 10K. This race was organised by Eastleigh Running Club and Wyvern College and was held in Fair Oak just 4 miles from
home.

Race Director, Deb Tyler, is a Run Director at Eastleigh parkrun and is also the Race Director for the very popular Marwell 10K. With Deb in charge, you can be sure of a very well organised event.

As the race was only 4 miles away and car parking at Wyvern College reported to be sparse, I decided to cycle. This was the first time I’d ridden for several months and as I cycled there along some of the course, I had chance to see just how non-flat the course was.

I’m not sure cycling was the greatest idea but it served as a warmup and the weather was good. It also reminded me how much I enjoyed cycling and I think I’ll try and include a cycle session once a week once the weather improves.

As I travelled to Wyvern, the marshals for the race were all heading for their positions and I saw a few familiar faces.

On arrival at the College, I was directed to the cycle racks. On the way, I bumped into Team Bryan (Robert, Susan and children) who are Run Directors and regular participants at Eastleigh parkrun.

There were plenty of marshals at the school to help direct people to registration and baggage. The registration area was in a big top. Well organised and quick, I headed out to drop off my baggage and spotted several familiar faces including regular race/run photographer Paul Hammond, Ian Boshier, Chris Brown and Henry Hopkins.

Henry and I dropped off baggage (again) well organised and went for a warmup on the J track which also served as the start area for the race.

It wasn’t immediately clear which way we left the start line (a common enough problem for many races) but that became clear before the start.

Having seen several Lordshill Road Runners (Jim Davies, Lawrence Chen amongst others) warming up, the area became busier about 10 minutes before the start. Deb was busy making sure the marshals and road blocks were in place. Louise Drayton said hello as she headed off to her marshalling position and then the runners congregated for the start.

The airhorn blasted and we were off. The course followed the J track, up a short incline on a Tarmac path and then down a muddy and slippy hill before leaving the school. The latter was a little disconcerting and caused by the recent poor weather.

As we left the school grounds, it was great to see so many locals along the route of the race. They seemed to have embraced the event and I can see it becoming popular largely due to the local support and support from the staff at Wyvern.

The course itself followed the northern end of Allington Lane (half the road was closed allowing car drivers from West End to travel north). We then turned left onto Fir Tree Lane and then onto Burnetts Lane before heading south on Botley Road. The course is an out-and-back with the turnaround point at 5km. Water was available at 4 and 6km. It was quite nice having a race where the 2 and 8km, 3 and 7km markers etc were at the same position. The other advantage was being able to see the front runners as they headed back. I saw Kev Yates from LRR jogging along and then the eventually winner not far behind him. It was great seeing so many regulars from parkrun and to be able to give them a few words of encouragement. After the turnaround point, I spotted Yvonne and Barbara Boshier who looked to be doing well. Barbara went on to PB. Well done Barbara.

The outward leg seemed to be mainly uphill. Definitely not flat and possibly more accurately described as gently undulating. I would have definitely preferred flat. The return leg seemed to be mainly uphill :-S I struggled from 8-9km and ended up walking a little as we went up a hill. I could blame the parkrun the day before, the sun, the lack of any hill sessions in recent months, the cycle ride or the lack of mental toughness to persevere when the going got a little tougher. Must try harder next time.

As I entered the school grounds, Dave Hawkins from ERC and a regular parkrunner, gave lots of words of encouragement (thanks Big Dave!!). With another slippy incline, I slowed down again. Disappointed I started to run again and sped up for the last 300 metres. As I passed Deb, she announced who I was and gave a great spiel on parkrun. Thanks Deb.

Running the last 150 metres on the track was a nice touch. Having crossed the line, it was time to collect the goodie bag (consisting of several flyers, a couple of random sachets and a water bottle from a local running shop and Olympic Torch inspired medal) before collapsing for a sit down and a post race chat with Henry and Chris. Both had found the race tougher than expected. This was really down to the expectation of a flat course and the reality that it wasn’t.

Baggage collection was a breeze and then it was time for the 4 mile cycle home. That definitely felt tougher.

So, in summary, a great new race. Very close to home. Well supported by locals. Very well organised. Most marshals were encouraging, some just going through the motions (marshals are there to ensure health and safety of participants and everyone else a race impacts. However, I think we expect them to give something extra. A clap, a few words of encouragement). Interesting course (the out-and-back offered different challenges in either direction). Accurately measured and signed course. My Garmin read 1km exactly at every marker.

In my view, a couple of minor changes would make the race a great race:

– better description of the course profile, e.g. It’s not flat
– clearer signs at registration for chip collection (the surname letters were a little hidden and that could have caused confusion had it been busier in the Big Top)
– signs to show direction of travel from start
– Clearer description of road closures (particularly Allington Lane)

But those are all very minor issues.

Wyvern 10K has become one of my favourite races and I hope for its return in 2013. Well done again Deb and everyone else involved.

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