Mark Armstrong: Hellish hills and post-run debriefs

Valentine's 10K 2021

Action from the start of the Valentine's 10K last weekend. - Credit: Mark Armstrong

As more and more runners crossed the finish line at the Valentine’s 10K on Sunday one thing was becoming abundantly clear. 

There was a hill at the end... a big one as well, or as more than a few runners announced. “a xxxxxxx big one’. 

It was so good to be back (of course I’d rather be running it but more on that later). 

This was the first event that had a semblance of normality when it came to road racing and Norfolk Gazelles deserve a great deal of credit for putting the event on and the way it was organised. 

The idea to have an elite start was excellent and made it feel like a proper race, rather than a time trial.  

The fact my wife, Alison, was in the women’s elite start made it even more exciting and there were some fine performances in what looked like pretty ideal running conditions (she got a personal best of 43:01 by the way). 

Callum Bowen-Jones (Bure Valley Harriers) and Alicia Lacey (Norwich Road Runners) took the overall victories and there was no mistaking the post-race buzz around the Norfolk Showground from the majority of runners. 

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I love the hour or so after a race. Alison and I always have a proper debrief of how the race has gone on our way home, often whilst munching on cake and drinking coffee on the way home. 

I know it’s the same for so many other club runners and hopefully in the not too distance future we can all do this together in the traditional prize giving that takes place afterwards as it did pre-Covid. I can’t even remember which club put on the best cake spread – it's been that long! 

We’re coming towards a period where there are quite a few local races with the Blickling Half Marathon taking place on Monday. 

The event proved such a success during such an uncertain period last year that it’s good to see it back again. If you’re looking for a bit of advice then think about leaving a little bit in the tank for the last mile as it’s fairly brutal. I expect to hear a bit of swearing on the finish line once again for anyone that’s not expecting it. 

Unfortunately, I won’t be toeing the start line. I’m having to try and keep my fitness up on the bike and the moment until I get to the bottom of the knee/hamstring complaint I’ve got. 

It’s frustrating but hopefully there will be plenty of races later this year that I can get my teeth into. 

Only time will tell how well I’m maintaining any kind of conditioning on the bike but it’s safe to say I’m missing running. I had my fill of cross training after a broke my ankle 18 months ago but at least I’m being to do something without aggravating the problem any further. 

It’s a shame Run Norwich has had to be postponed until 2022 but it’s an understandable decision in the circumstances. We’re all living week to week and whilst we all hope we can continue our journey to normality through the vaccine we don’t know what’s around the corner. 

It was clear in the Run Norwich statement that the fact they couldn’t take out insurance against the race once again being affected by Covid meant it wasn’t viable. 

It’s not a risk that organisers, the Community Sports Foundation, can take. It’s disappointing that such a stellar even won’t be able to happen it does make you question whether other mass participation events will go the same way later in the year. Let’s hope not.