Apart from the marathon, Banbury 15 is the longest race on my schedule this year. That, coupled with the fact that Banbury, unlike other parts of Oxfordshire, has some pretty gnarly hills in it made this race a pretty formidable challenge.
My pacer was Rich’s friend Ewan. He does all of his running for Helen and Douglas House because of a little boy Thomas who sadly, only about a week before the race, passed away.
Ewan is way faster than me and also has the constitution of an Ox (his mantra is ‘man the fuck up!’), unlike me who goes into every race thinking I’m instantly going to fail and fall flat on my face. He agreed to stick to my pace of 9.30 min/mile (or there about) aiming to finish around the 2 and a half hour mark.
We were just packing the stuff in the car before I had a quick last-minute costume change and threw on my running skirt instead of my black running tights – best decision of the day as what was probably 18 degrees felt more like 28 degrees when running!
The Banbury 15 is a local race run by the local running club – it’s a no frills race with no timing chips and not many spectators along the course, but sometimes that’s nice!
The first gnarly hill hit about a mile in and I was feeling pretty good – I’ve almost nailed this hill thing, in fact I enjoy a course with a little bit of undulation in it.
Ewan was running the race in memory of Thomas and that’s what drives him to run. I run for the (minimal) glory/achievement and the bling to add to my already overflowing collection. It was nice to have a little bit of that positivity rub off on me though. At mile 13 we were sure little Thomas was watching over us as a yellow butterfly (his favourite colour and he loved butterflies) fluttered by.
We were both feeling pretty strong until around mile 14 when all I could think about was water and I came over feeling decidedly odd, and Ewan’s knee started playing up. We both pushed on though to finish in a respectable 2 hours and 20 minutes – 10 minutes quicker than I had hoped.
– Great undulating course – gives you confidence that you can complete a flat spring marathon
– Well organised
– Easy parking and easy access to the train station for those who don’t drive (race starts in the middle of Banbury)
– Good value race entry
…the not so good
– No timing chip – didn’t bother me, but might some
– It was an unseasonably hot day and I think we could have done with an extra water station
Diva rating: 4/5
What did I learn?
– Maybe running for a cause would be nice and would give my running a sense of meaning rather than being a selfish, self-indulgent pursuit
– Don’t do your shoe laces up too tightly as your feet swell up massively on a long run – my poor little toe is really feeling it now!
Helen & Douglas House has the time and expertise to care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions and support their families. The two hospice houses offer specialist symptom and pain management, medically supported short breaks and end-of-life care, as well as counselling and practical support for the whole family.