"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own" Sri Chinmoy
Funchal - 2 Mile Race - Jan 2022 - Madeira
I don't have a lot of good luck when it comes to Christmas Trip races - several times over the last decade and a half when I have got out to a beautiful location with an opportunity to race with friends and (spiritual) family I've been injured and my participation has been pretty limited. The last 3 years have seen a real resurgence in my running and some best-for-ten-years performances so when I booked to travel to Madeira I had high hopes that I'd be race fit. Then, of course, I overcooked the descents on the Mendip Muddle and had to take a break from running. C'est la vie!
For the first few races I marshalled the turnaround point, which is great fun. You get to be a part of the race even when you can't actually race. But I was fit to race-walk, having pushed myself at speed-walking pace through a 10k in December, so I decided to do that for the final race of the series, a 2 miler on the only flat section of tarmac we had been able to find in this slopiest of towns (Funchal). The course was on a cycleway running parallel to the seafront, up above the hotels and looking down over the bay. It was popular with cyclists and runners but fortunately as we were starting before sunrise we were able to race without too many members of the public wanting to share the course.
I started at the back and set myself two targets. First was to not finish last, second was to match Sri Chinmoy's race-walking pace. I'd heard at one of the functions a few nights before that he walked a 10k in 67 minutes sometime in the 80s and that is a pretty swift pace - to match that 10:45 per mile without breaking into a jog was going to be testing.
After race prayer and silence we were started off by Viharin and once everyone ahead of me had got moving I was able to start pushing the pace. I don't have any kind of decent technique for this, but I've found that to race walk my best I need a good arm swing, and Tarit once advised me to keep it front-to-back as much as possible so as not to lose energy through sideways movement. With that arm swing going and pushing off from the road I was soon up to the desired pace and it was just a case of keeping the pressure on myself over twenty something minutes.
I managed to meet both goals, coming in with just a handful of my fellow walkers and walk/joggers behind me, and with a total time of 21:19. It was very satisfying to be out there pushing myself again after sitting out several races, and I hope that by the time I next find myself on The Trip I'll be able to enjoy these races as a runner rather than a walker. When we gathered at the end for the results and prasad, Viharin had a surprise for us. He was re-creating something Sri Chinmoy had done in the early days of the Marathon Team where he called a second race, previously unannounced, immediately after the finish of the first. Viharin had mentioned the night before that this would be a race we'd remember and none of us had twigged - the marshals must have known but they kept quiet and it was, indeed, a surprise all round. Everyone was up for it though - and excitedly headed to the new start line for the one mile course. I got ready to speedwalk some more and see if I could come in under 10:45......