Race Date: Sunday 28th August 2022
Race Report by Robin Nelson
The Spitfire 10k is held at RAF Museum Midlands on the last Sunday in August. The timing coincides with me heading down that way to see family for my birthday each year, but my more unusual connection, is that I was born on the site. The RAF hospital has since been knocked down (their quest to genetically engineer the most average runner was over). Close to where I grew up, the air displays and museum provided a destination for many childhood and school visits, so it seemed fitting to race there on my first attempt last year. As a bonus, I can rope my family in as cheerleaders each year, using birthday guilt.
Every competitor gets a Roll Of Honour Card to pin to their back, bearing the name of a serviceman involved in the Battle of Britain. This year I ran for Pilot Officer Richard Malzard Hogg, replacing 2021’s also suitably double-barrelled Sergeant Kenneth Barton Smith. So far I’ve chickened out of running in flying helmet and stiff horizontal scarf.
Before the race, runners gather outside Hangar 1 which is open for late registrations, bag drop and for a walk around the exhibits (all four museum hangars open for visitors at 10am). After we’d cheered in the runners from two short family races, the 10k start had to be delayed by 20 minutes due to late arrivals on the site. The wait was filled by continued war time tunes and an energetic announcer giving shout-outs over the speakers.
The route starts with a gentle uphill, past large vintage planes, winding behind the visitor centre and between aircraft hangars. It then becomes a flat out-and-back, down a very long service road (with a water station) which follows the edge of the airfield. Next, runners cut in towards the runway, joining it for a 1km long section with space to spread out. They are eventually greeted by a loud, music-pumping sound system (my ears are still ringing) as they reach the turning point.
As you might expect, the airfield is very exposed; in 2021 there was a crosswind, and I paced my race badly, slowing down with each km. This year there was enough heat in the sun to revive the bad vest tan lines from the Dronfield Relay; but after a slow start in the crowd, I was able to pick up speed in the later miles and improve on last year’s time.
The organisers favour a hefty medal; 2021 had a spinning Spitfire cut-out centre; this year they upped the moving parts to three, a spinning airspeed indicator dial with a moveable needle. The shadow of a large transport plane was a novel place to cool off and stretch with my finisher’s bottled water and banana, before a family wander around the museum.
990 runners took part in the race. The men’s race was won by Rob Michaelson-Yeates of Lonely Goat RC in a time of 00:32:45. Abbey Van Dijk of Derby Athletic Club won the women’s race in a time of 00:36:17.
Full results can be found on the Nice Work website.