"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Christmas Cracker 10k - Weston - December 2021

I lose  count of how many times I've done this race, though as the course has changed so much over the years it is hardly the same event as the one I got my 10k PB on years ago. It's always fun though, whether I'm in great racing shape as I was back then at the age of 37 or injured to the point of not being able to run as I am now. It's just great to be part of a crowd gathering for an event and hearing the countdown to the start.

Kokila had trained up for this one and was in good shape, I had entered the race before glitching my knee on the Mendip Muddle but I had managed a 10k speed-walk without much reaction so I was happy to subject my patella tendon (which is recovering well with the help of the physio department at UWE) to the same stress but in race conditions. As 10k races go, this one is pretty low impact, with a flat profile and mostly sand underfoot.

The start lacked some of the intenstity of previous years, with everyone mindful of the need to socially distance, but we had a chance to meditate on the mist and the serene stretch of sea out beyond the pier before things got going.

The rule in the Christmas Cracker used to be that you had to wear fancy dress or else be in race kit with a bit of tinsel, but tinsel is discouraged now and most people had made some effort to get into costume. As you an see we were no exception!

I started out at 12 -13 minute pace which left me just behind a pack including Kokila and I stuck to my own line, staying away from any bunches, seeing as I was not out for any kind of time. My only target was to be pushing the pace the whole way round and not to come last even though I was walking. Staying out of the crowd did mean taking a longer route here and there, mostly at the turns, but that probably only added a few hundred metres.

The course was a long straight on the beach, which was mostly (but not entirely) firm underfoot, then a swing to the left and a return on the prom before we headed back down on to the sand and under the pier again for a second loop. In places the going underfoot was soft and squishy so this is not the PB course it used to be, though the fastest finisher did come in at around 32 minutes (I was still heading south along the beach at that point with the back markers).

Although the beach is bleak and dramatic, sublime in it's own way, I prefer the section on the road that starts at Uphill and takes you towards the awesome sight of the hilltop church outlined in the swirling mist. From there it was fast and easy road-walking back to the beach and a final push across the sodden sands to finish back at the Pier. I managed a gun to chip time of 1:14 which is OK by my standards and made me think I should maybe train up for the Sri Chinmoy 12 Hour Walk seeing as I can't run at the moment. Kokila was a couple of minutes ahead of me and we were both happy with our results.

It's a great event to end the year with, the fun and light-heartedness outweighing the race-intensity you associate with Weston Prom. Here's hoping next year I am back to running and racing so I can aim for something in the low 40s instead of an hour and a quarter. I remember being here before though - with running off the menu and my only participation in races limited to walking at the back - but it has always been a stepping stone back to proper racing and that is priceless.

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