Officially measured 10k run over a flat, smooth, running surface on the famous Castle Combe race circuit. Safe, traffic-free, multi-lap running, suitable for beginners and experienced runners alike.
Chilly by name, but not by nature, the Castle Combe 10K promised a PB-friendly surface and it did not disappoint! As a general rule, I strongly dislike lapped races; they generally mess me up psychologically. And, as a general rule, I like my running as green as possible; fields, woods, changing scenery. By face value, 3.4 laps of the Castle Combe racetrack does not sound like my cup of tea.
But I left the house on Sunday morning kitted up with one thing on my mind: a new 10K PB, and the Chilly was, purportedly, the place to do it.
We arrived nice and early and parked on-site; the racetrack was obviously well set up for parking. Things were already in full swing – not only was there a 10K on, but the Chilly Duathlon was taking place later. The two big brands, 9Bar and organizers DB Max, were loud and proud, and there was a triathlon pop-up and sports massage too. The toilet facilities were a little lacking in number for 250+ runners (plus the early Duathletes) suffering pre-race nerves. A few portaloos would have been appreciated.
Pre-registered racers collected their numbers and timing chips separately to day entries. The chips, DB:MAX of course, comprised a disposable loop for your laces. The DB Max team were hot on accuracy – I was summoned over the tannoy as they were concerned that my chip code was duplicated. It wasn’t, but it was reassuring for a prospective PBer to know that their details were being taken seriously!
The race briefing commenced at approximately 10:20, as we were led to the start line. The start line was out on the track, but was a tad unusual as we had to run a few hundred metres in one direction and then turn and run back on ourselves to do the 3 laps of the track before veering off a slip lane and round to the finish. The race started art 10:30, allowing 3 wheelchair athletes to set off first before the runners got underway.
As would be expected of a race on a racetrack, the course was flat and there isn’t much I can say descriptive-wise! The field was fairly broad and the lapping made for a good spread of runners across the route; nice for spectators. The spectators were all gathered near the buildings, also where the water station was located, so there wasn’t much support out on course, but the cheers at the one point (times 3!) were enthusiastic and encouraging.
Chilly 10K route – 3.4 laps of the Castle Combe racetrack
Chilly 10K elevation – flat, flat, flat!
Personally, I actually found the laps to be helpful for my own pacing strategy. I was targeting sub-42 minutes, and had it in mind that if I could average 9 mph I would more than smash that. So I endeavoured to keep around 9mph for the the first two and bit laps and step it up a bit on the last. My timings were not spot on, but by lap 3 I was aware of where the slight inclines and declines were so I could make full use of them. I think this goes on record as my first ever negative split race!
On to the finish!
(Original has been purchased; awaiting delivery!)
The turn off from the track was exciting, a short run down a chute, round the corner and to the finish, cheered on by marshalls and spectators. I was handed my lovely medal (it’s purple, my favourite colour), a water bottle and a 9Bar, before staggering off to join my husband and revel in our new PBs.
DB Max events have an awesome added bonus (they were at the Gloucester 10K I ran earlier this year): instant confirmation of your chip time. None of this fretting over your Garmin rubbish – did I do it, did I not? – we were able to go straight to a couple of computers, type in our race numbers and get an instant print out.
Let the PB celebrations commence!
And, not only was my PB confirmed, but my position as overall 3rd female – which I didn’t have a clue about until I got my slip!
The aftermath of the race was rather crowded as the competitors for the Duathlon were now arriving en masse and there were very nice bikes everywhere. I was informed that the prize-giving was to take place just after 12pm, once the first wave of Duathletes were sent on their way. It was a bit later than that, and I was starting to shiver, but nothing could temper my excitement – I had spied trophy boxes and 9Bar goody bags…
1 – George Frost – 32:51 – Team Bath
2 – James Donald – 34:34 – Team Bath
3 – Alistair Robinson – 35:54 (who apparently missed the prize-giving because he was off competing in the Duathlon! – Team 9Bar
1 – Fee Maycock – 38:18 – Belgrave Harriers (but an Almost in her spare time!)
2 – Elizabeth Smith – 39:46 – Westbury Harriers
3 – Amber Bullingham – 41:36 – Almost Athletes
A great day for Team Bath who also scooped the men’s team prize, but a special mention to Almost Athletes men for taking second, including my lovely other half!
My first running trophy!
If you’re looking for a PB and are lucky enough to get a non-windy day, this course is a must. The medal and prizes were very nice and the organization of DB Max is very good. The official race photos are high quality and offer a reasonable low res (suitable for social media) option of £4.25, plus you can view your finish for free on YouTube.
Room for improvement
Competitors who entered on the day were not entitled to a finisher’s medal, which seems a bit mean. I can understand about ordering but either have it where there are no on the day entries or order more medals – I overheard some who were not aware about this rule until after they entered.
Not the prettiest of races, but well organized and supported by some fairly big names. Definitely good value for money and a great chance to stretch your legs properly and work on your pacing. I would consider running it again, but maybe not for a while. Also, it’s important to note that the race is not UKA affiliated, only ARC, so your hard earned PB won’t be appearing on RunBritain Rankings or Power of 10, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.