Endurance Life Ravenscar 10K Race Report – No Looking Back

I don’t understand, where is the checkpoint? Where are the marshalls? And where are the runners? I must have taken a wrong turn, caught up in the heat of the moment. I knew hitting the front early was a bad idea, it didn’t feel right, oh god, imagine if I win but get disqualified, all for missing one bloody invisible checkpoint!

Maybe I took a wrong turn at the last climb, should I turn around and backtrack, whats the worst that could happen? I bump into the rest of the field and lose some time, but at least I won’t be disqualified. No, just keep going if I DQ it’ll be with the best frickin time this course has seen. Seriously, what I wouldn’t give to see a marshall right now!

Many months of training preceded this frantic inner dialogue. The Endurance Life Ravenscar 10K is actually 8 miles, despite the CTS website stating seven. Taking in the Cleveland Way, stunning coastal shots and old railway tracks the elevation gain is around 800ft falling largely in the second half, but all runnable.

My training maxed out around two weeks prior to the race and preparations were perfect. That was until Tuesday as my throat turned dry, nose ran and head began to pound. This week not only marked my first full year under the guidance of Jayson Cavill, but also my first full year without a cold, or not so the case would prove.

Tuesday was my throat, Wednesday my nose, Thursday my head and Friday – to be frank – I felt like shit. Anyway, Saturday came as I decided to persevere and take what medication I could. Around 10am I met Nick and Sharon on course who offered great morale support. The routine psych up ritual was in full swing by 10.30.

A race briefing commenced at 11am, including mention of a checkpoint at Hayburn Wyke. We were instructed to ‘tag’ in here or be disqualified.

The Race

11.30 arrived with the race directors countdown, ‘3, 2, 1 – GO’ I leaped forward sprinting for the front, a fast start could make all the difference but my watch read 5:50 minute miles, maybe too fast. Set in an open field the course crosses a road then bottle necks along the Cleveland Way for about 3 miles. You have 2-3 minutes to find a good position and I had practised hitting the front early.

Thanks to Nick for the great picture above which shows my start and below my attempt at breathing through a blocked nose.

I believe performing is about converting practise; practise what you intend to do in small increments then combine it all on the day. In the lead, my pace settled to around 6:36 minute miles, I awaited the stampede of runners who would surely overtake, but no one came. With the sea to my left and Cleveland Way afoot I focused on breathing, moderate to deep is what we want for this distance, check.

One mile down I glanced behind to see a herd of people giving chase, about 30 seconds behind. Yet looking forward I was alone and it was scary, like a training run but way too fast. Excitement or the course – I’m not sure which – spiked my breathing, so I slowed to 6:50 minute miles for the next two until turning off the Cleveland Way and into forestry.

A Lost Lamb

Entering the woods I expected to see a marshall, there were of course markings but often just hazard tape tide to trees. The race briefing included mention of markings for the wrong direction, was it a sign or tape? I couldn’t remember. I started to panic.

I don’t understand, where is the checkpoint? Where are the marshalls? And where are the runners? I must have taken a wrong turn, caught up in the heat of the moment. I knew hitting the front early was a bad idea, it didn’t feel right, oh god, imagine if I win but get disqualified, all for missing one bloody invisible checkpoint!

Maybe I took a wrong turn at the last climb, should I turn around and backtrack, whats the worst that could happen? I bump into the rest of the field and lose some time, but at least I won’t be disqualified. No, just keep going, don’t lose your head. Seriously, what I wouldn’t give to see a Marshall right now!

My head was ablaze with worry, at one point I pondered what Jayson might say. Something about time been more important than the records of a website I suppose. Slowing down to 8 minute miles I made doubly sure I followed the hazard tape, despite doubting it marked the right way. Thinking back I feel dumb, why would they mark the wrong direction more than twice? But I wanted to podium so bad and I had trained so hard.

Leaving the woods to climb a long sweeping road I caught site of someone, pleeaase be the checkpoint! 

“Is this the checkpoint?” I blurted out, removing my headphones.

“yes mate, tag in here.” came the reply.

“Thank god for that!” I sighed, as the weight lifted from my shoulders.

Arriving at Hayburn Wyke in 38:37 put me two minutes ahead of the course record.

My pace drifted to 10 minute miles for the one mile preceding the checkpoint. A 340ft climb may have been to blame but I’m sure I could have done this section faster with more confidence. Anyway, morale in tact I put pedal to the metal and dug deep. The next 3 miles were on a slight gradient climbing 350 foot to the finish line. Glancing down at my watch, I knew the course record was in site.

Sprint To The Finish

From here on out I ignored my Garmin, breathing, the voice insisting I slow down and any other distraction. I just ran hard, harder and then even harder. The sea came into focus – a first since leaving the Cleveland Way – as did a road leading to the field and finish line.

Here I am below, crossing the finish in 59 minutes 35 seconds, almost 4 minutes faster than the course record. Checking back my splits for the last 3 miles were 7:08, 7:09 and 6:55 minute miles. Again times and endurance I didn’t think I had for that course.

It was so nice to see Nick and Sharon at the finish line. Nick saw two half marathon runners come in before me, thinking I’d got third he consoled me, “you’d have won without the cold”. His face when I explained I’d actually won and done the course record was my favourite memory from the day. Experience is nothing if its not shared and Nick’s been through it with me in training for the last 12 months. Anyway soppy crap over!

Also need to thank the Mrs for her support, been a runners wife can be tasking at times. Also, thanks to Jayson and Kim Cavill for their coaching. I don’t recognise myself since meeting Jayson 12 months ago, I wonder where I’ll be in another 12 months? And finally Endurance Life and all the volunteers for putting together a great race.

Anyway, if you read until the end well done, or go do something more productive! 🙂 For a small race this is a big write up, but for me this was a significant moment with a lot of sentimental value.

Darren Smith

Fairly new to Trail running, Darren sees 2017 as a transitional year. Swapping concrete for dirt and 10K’s for marathons and beyond. Darren started “Trailing The Pack” to chronicle his journey and share the trip with any like minded nutters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *