Big Fun Run, Cardiff (September 2008)

Race number 15 was not my usual kind of event - billed as a big race with a limit of 1000, and aimed at runners raising money for charities, the Big Fun Run turned out to be fairly low key. The other unusual thing from my point of view was that I was first to finish, though whether or not you can call yourself the "winner" of a fun run is debatable - most of the runners are there to complete the distance rather than clock a particular time, and traditionally results are not recorded and published in a fun run as they would be in a race.

Still stiff from a return to fell running three days earlier, I went for a very long warm up, jogging and walking around Bute Park for the best part of an hour. Having checked in at registration to pay my tenner, I stayed up at the north end of the park enjoying the sun and doing a few strides, rather than suffer the thumping music that was being pumped out into the otherwise exquisitely beautiful, sunny september morning. Once the "big warm up" was over, we headed to the line and I expected to find a knot of club runners up the front - in fact there were only two or three and I suddenly thought I might have a shot at coming first in something. I went off like a shot at a stupid pace, overtaking the lead cyclist, and as the first km around the nurseries unfolded, I was surprised to find myself out on my own. Could it last? I felt like Paula Radcliff front-running in a 10,000 metre race. I was suddenly living out some kind of running fantasy, leading a race (well, ok, a fun run). My real goal for the day was a PB, or to get close to 18 minutes, soo despite the absence of other runners around me I pushed hard and tried to keep up the unrealistic early pace.

Kilometre markers came and went - it was basically the same route as our Self-Transcendence 3 Mile Race only with an extra loop at the end and a different start position. One km took 3.28, the next 3.09 (way too fast for me), then 4.25 even though I was staying steady and then 2.55 (faster than I can run) with the last one 3.30. I think we can safely say those markers were not in the right positions! The marshals were friendly and there were lead bikes for both sections of the course keeping dogs and people away from the runners, but the gate at Blackweir almost swung shut as I went through, which was a bit of a near miss! A marshal nipped back to open it properly for the pack, fortunately. When I got to the bend by the footbridge (4 km) I saw there was no-one close and realised I was going to have that first-finisher experience, as well as a massive PB, both of which gave me a lot of joy.

Unfortunately, those runners with GPS and/or a good knowledge of their expected time seemed all to agree that the course was a tad short - just 200m or so - but that does devalue a PB of 17.18 just a little.Still, I had a great run despite being very stiff at the start, and it was a very enjoyable way to clock up race 15 of the 40 I'm aiming to do before next June. Don't think I'll bother with any fun runs in the next 25 though!

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