Although we chose to run at our own pace, running for The PAT Pacers added an extra incentive to race day – the level of experience in the team varied from seasoned marathon runners to those just starting out in the sport, but we all had one thing in common... the will to have fun.
The crowds began to swell shortly after I arrived at 8.30am, and as a result of the chilly September air, I took refuge in Costa Coffee where a number of other runners had gathered.
One member of The PAT Pacers team chose to run from her house two miles away as the roads started closing hours before the race so that the route could be prepared – that’s commitment!
The start of the race soon came around and I lined up for the start with the runners expecting to finish around 50 minutes – I knew that if I could keep pace with them for at least some of the race then I was bound to finish with a good time and I could comfortably beat my previous best of 53 minutes.
Starting higher up the field also came with another welcome advantage – as the starter pistol went off, I almost instantly found myself running with people with a similar pace and stayed with them throughout the race.
Turning away from The Rock after the first kilometre the pace was quick on the steep downhill gradient. First, passing The Fusiliers Museum, then my old college Holy Cross, and the support of those who had come to watch was fantastic.
The race marshals did an excellent job of encouraging and directing runners as they passed and didn’t seem to relent even after runners passed them for a second time on their way to the finish.
After two kilometres of fairly easy downhill running I was encouraged at my split times, I ran the first kilometre in exactly five minutes before clocking a sub-five minute second kilometre to leave me with a strong chance of finishing in a sub-fifty 10k! If only the second half of the race was going to be that easy!
The PAT Pacers after completing the Bury 10k
The old adage what goes up must come down was reversed for this route. The first half of the race was easy whilst the half way point marked the start of the slow but steady climb back to the finish in Bury Town Centre.
I was particularly grateful to the group of cheerleaders just past half way, and equally to the band of drummers that assembled on the main road for the morale boost they provided.
As I ran through Bury town centre on my way to the finish line, I imagined that it wouldn’t feel much different to run down The Mall in London on the way to the finish of the London Marathon (on a much larger scale of course!) such was the support.
I crossed the finish line in 50:54 (a PB for me) and immediately vowed to run the race again next year. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and, taking a walk around the finishing area where stalls and runners alike had assembled, I reflected on what a fantastic event it had been.
The race itself was really well organised from the start and the atmosphere was excellent the whole way around the course. I finished the 10k with a personal best time, which, given the steep incline during the second half of the race, felt extremely rewarding.
I Will If You Will produced a video of the event (see below) – it gives you a glimpse into this fantastic event and is well worth a watch:
Read more on Connor's blog, Thoughts From The Road