Race Date: Sunday 16th August 2021
Racing, in slightly adjusted forms, is back, with both familiar and unfamiliar elements to events.
- There was the tenuous reason for entry – my middle son and his girlfriend (and dogs) are moving to Solihull very soon.
- There was the ready excuse if the race did not go as hoped – 17 months of not racing should just about cover it.
- There were the other Striders (there are always other Striders!) – Malcolm Baggaley in the Half, Stephen Schubeler in the half-hour-later-starting 10km, and Andy Norton working the timing system.
- Portaloo Bogs! – I got in early, and late, to use the race essential. With a town start line, these were outside House of Fraser.
Finish line – always a welcome sight, but especially so at the end of this race.
(This is my lad, Oli, finishing 7th in the 10km)
- Chip timing – nothing new or fancy here, just the classic loop around the shoelaces. I fastened mine on before I left home, which is unusual, and then drove all the way south with it on which I thought was a high-risk strategy.
- The ‘informal’ bag drop – in an abandoned HMV, which is a very useful way to use an empty shop unit, I think. Luckily, you could return to your bag before the start. (I’d forgotten the necessary anti-chafing precautions.)
- An altered start procedure – familiar enough, but odd in many ways. Entry was limited to around 1,000 runners to ensure spacing at the start. No ‘pens’ were used – we were called forward by a too quiet pa system and then told to run up to the start line in two straight lines, following the cones. Once past we could do what we liked.
- There were the usual complaints about ‘hills’ on the route – with only 600 feet of elevation gain is was not what any Sheffield-based runner would call ‘hilly’, but I saw and passed many a walker from the first upward slope onwards.
- The scenic route – never have I run past so many houses I could never afford to buy. A very nice church after 200 metres (St. Alphege), a beautiful park (home to Brueton parkrun), then Knowle, Temple Balsall and a lollipop back to the start / finish line in the town centre.
- Road kill makes a unique sound – you might want to look away now. Commercial Radio stations like a phone-in quiz, and the ‘Guess the Noise’ quiz is a classic. Everything does make a distinctive sound – wine pours differently to orange juice; pencils snap differently to sugar-snap peas; a can of Fanta makes a different ‘fizz’ when opened to a Guinness. Unfortunately, I have now heard the sound of a runner treading, unintentionally, on a small animal corpse, and I will be able to accurately identify it should it ever come up.
- This is the moment of the ‘squeeze, crack, pop!’
- There was a motorway crossing – like at Liversedge Half all those years ago. It’s a bit loud for a stretch is all, but this race was on fully closed roads. (The confused and entitled driver of a bit, fat Jaguar out in a country village didn’t quite see why they should be closed, though. The very patient and polite Marshall explained the situation as I went past.)
- Entirely new was a shirt in soft wrapping – in a few weeks, at the Sheffield Half / 10k, you will be offered a t-shirt from a mound on a trestle table. Here, in affluent Solihull, the technical t-shirts were layered in tissue, and laid flat inside a useful Ziploc bag (biodegradable at the end of its useful life).
- Cowbells, headless tambourines and other percussion instruments – Marshalls and spectators enjoyed rattling, shaking and striking a range of instruments, including the classic saucepans and up-turned paint tubs from Wickes.
- A goodie bag without a bag – we picked up about as many things as were ever on the Generation Game’s conveyor belt; Corn, Nutrition Bar, Technical Water, homemade flapjack, T-shirt (see above), medal (of course), flyers for some other races…
The race came with no discount for EA registered athletes, so that may have put off some / a few. However, it is a PB course, I’d say. It was pretty. Parking was easy in and easy out. And the spectators could be easily whipped up into polite applause as we went past.
First male: Jason Bennett (unattached) in 1 hour 12 minutes 25 seconds
First female: Emma Styles (Nuneaton Harriers) in 1 hour 17 minutes 19 seconds
|94||Malcolm Baggerley||M Sen||1.30.28|
|220||Alison Barrett||FV 40||1.40.45|
|306||Stuart Jones||MV 60||1.46.19|
There were 1,076 finishers (and the results can be found here).