10k is a long way. Forget the marathons or triathlons you may have watched on your sofa eating crisps. If you are an average adult standing on the start line of this years Swansea Bay 10k, 10k is a long way. And you are probably thinking that now, it is a nervous time, it is no fun before the run. That apprehension sitting in the back of your mind over the next few days that will reach a crescendo just before noon Sunday. But don’t worry, if you are anxious it just means you are not undertaking this challenge lightly, in fact you are probably wise. As Frances Bacon once said ‘If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties’. That includes all you female athletes too, we are totally inclusive on the DimExcuses blog.
To help get you through this year’s Swansea Bay 10k here is my kilometre by kilometre DimExcuses guide, based on the 5 times I have run it. It includes 10Km, 10 photos and 10 runners.
1km – this includes the most important bit, the start, every great journey starts with the first step and all that. Make sure that you line up along with your estimated finish time, helpfully written in big numbers on St. Helen’s Rugby Ground wall. And go! You are off, the key is not to get boxed in so you can’t run at the pace you want to, or worse you get carried along too fast in the crowd and set yourself up for tiring too soon. The whole Mumbles Road is closed so spread out (going to the right helps) and find your own space. Below Mark Gosney has no pace problems as he enters the final couple of km at Blackpill, I expect he will be the first face I recognise on Sunday doing his usual blistering pace.
2km – You should be in some nice space now and matching the pace of runners around you. Work out what time you should be doing for each km before the race. Check your pace by looking at your stop watch (which you started as you crossed the start line) when you pass the km distance markers. I was alongside Ralph Lewis from Swansea Healthforce at this point in 2007 and he said to me ‘it is a long way to go yet’, thanks Ralph. Closer to present day here is David Gomez putting on a brave face for that final Blackpill Hill. All these photos are taken in Blackpill, because that is where I stand, keep an eye out for me.
3km – You should have reached Blackpill by now, forget space on the right go left and shout to me for your photo. Like Sam Donaldson here, who is never shy of a photo. He features in two photos in this blog! Rumour is the beard is coming off this year for more aerodynamics and the hope of a personal best (PB).
4km – Virtually in mumbles now and to your dismay you will have seen the fastest runners coming back the other way. You will have plenty of space at this point and the runners around you will probably be around you until the finish. You may make friends, like my sister Michelle Blackmore and her running partner Sally giving it their best in 2011. They are hoping for a sub-50 minute PB this year.
5km – The turn around at mumbles and a real glory part as the crowds will be quite deep as you turn around at Oystermouth square. Spotting familiar faces in the crowd is a good way to keep yourself going. The Swansea Bay 10k is rated as one of the best 10k you can do, the atmosphere on the day always gives runners a boost. No one knows that better than Sandra Mitchell a hardy perennial Swansea Bay 10ker below.
6km – Now you are on the prom. Get water at the water stop there is only one and it is here. The biggest problem you can have on the prom is if the wind is against you. You can slipstream other runners by tucking in close behind them. Don’t get too close though you don’t want to trip over each other like Zola Budd and Mary Decker (showing my age with that reference). Someone you will never seen tripping is Andrew Davies below, it is just a training run for this veteran tri-athlete.
7km – You will be back at Blackpill and I should have you in my camera sights as you cross the bridge and climb the only hill. Not far now but it is the hard bit. Hopefully the crowds should give you a lift. Here is Sam agan showing how to take that hill during the wet 2012 10k.
8km – Behind the golf course you have some shelter from the wind here as trees are between the prom and the bay. Morale should be up at this point with the finish not too distant. One runner who will know that only too well is Keith Harris from Swansea Bay Hash House Harriers in yellow below.
9km – The finish is in your sites as you run through the trees opposite the university. The crowd will really carry the strugglers at this point, with kids high fiving runners as they pass. Hopefully the Macmillan Mug hasn’t over taken you at this point!
10km – You have done it, bask in the cheer of the crowd and ‘The Wave’ soundsystem. Don’t stop dead at the finish line, that is almost a guarantee of seeing your stomach contents. The organisers know this and you are encouraged to slow to a brisk walk as you are funnelled through the finish. Then it is just case of pick up your medal and have a well earned pint like Michelle and Sally below.
Like I said it is no fun before the run, and that will reach a crescendo just before noon, and the countdown to the race will be the worst, 10, your mp3 player is playing, 9, you check your headphones, 8, you fiddle with your number, 7, you bounce to check your trainers work, 6, you look at your stopwatch, 5, you rest your finger on start, 4, you look to the runner on your left, 3, you look to the runner on your right, 2, you look straight ahead…
1, time feels like it has stopped and so has your heart, adrenaline enters the blood stream, there is a eternity of silence, you have no thoughts, work, the mortgage, the car needing an MOT are all forgotten, the reptilian brain kicks in, fight of flight instinct…
…BANG, the start gun fires, time restarts, sound returns, your heart beats and you naturally move forward along with everyone else, one step turns into two which rapidly turns into ten, the sound of 6000 trainers pounding on Mumbles road surrounds you and threats to drown out your mp3 player, and that is when the fun begins.
Good luck to all you runners, look out for me at Blackpill you could be in Monday’s blog entry. Most importantly have fun, DimExcuses.