When is a 5k not a 5k?

Posted on: 30 May 2017

A busy long weekend for me started with a few days off which included an outdoors gig in Liverpool to see the Human League followed by activity relating to the Liverpool Rock’n’ Roll event, and then my second assault on Mow Cop ‘Killer Mile’ which I’d told you all about previously.

The outdoor gig was the first event I’d been to since the dreadful happenings in Manchester. I’d actually been in Manchester at a gig at the O2 Ritz on the very same evening of the suicide bombing so I did spend some time wondering quite how close he’d come to choosing an alternative music venue that night for his dreadful deed.

Phil Oakey and co didn’t let anyone down at the dockside event, and it was heart-warming to see how many people turned out for the Thursday night gig, despite the heightened sense of fear and increased security. The same heightened security was apparent at the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll weekend where people, both runners and spectators, nonetheless turned out in huge numbers.

I was only running the 5k event this time round. My achilles had started playing up again so I hadn’t run for in a week in order that it might have recovered in time for Saturday’s event.  My estimated time of around 25:00 had put me in the second corral so I was in relatively quick company.

The course starts outside the Liverpool Echo Arena on the waterfront and then looped towards the Pier Head before returning to finish inside the Arena itself. I set off and tried to find a runner I could latch onto who was going the sort of pace I wanted to if I was going to duck under 24:30.

Everything was going to plan - I was clocking well under the 8 min/miles I needed and approached the stadium with my watch telling me I’d done about 2.8 miles. I reckoned we must have been due to do the remainder of the race inside the area so held off momentarily from doing my sprint for the line.

As we ducked inside the arena, down a bare cement corridor and then a barely lit passage which meant that if you were running in shades you couldn’t see a bloody thing in front of you. I swear at this point I came to a virtual standstill as I couldn’t really see where I was treading and I went forward  gingerly 'til I could see the illuminated timer at the finish. There was barely a chance to pick up the pace and then I crossed the line, somewhat disappointed by being thrown into near darkness and then having the line emerge from a bend without much warning - no sprint finish from me then!  

I stopped my watch at 22:45 and though I’d had a stormer. It was then I looked at the distance, and I had only completed 2.86 miles. It seems that the first two corrals had been sent on a shortened course by a lead cyclist who had taken a wrong turn, thus shortening the race slightly. The organisers quickly corrected the distance for later corrals, but for the first two corrals (which included the race winners) they had run a much shortened ‘5k’.

The official race tracking app gave me a finish time of 22:41 while the official results (which I can only presume were time adjusted to take account of the shortfall) gave me a finish time of 24:06. I have contacted the race organisers for confirmation of my time but it’s pretty disappointing that what would have been a PB for me is somewhat clouded by uncertainty. The Sgt Pepper themed medal was good though.

My achilles was pretty sore after the race as I hobbled off to get the train home, and any hopes of turning up to support the marathoner’s/half-marathoner on the Sunday went out of the window. I could barely walk for the next day or so which was spent icing my achilles frequently.

By Monday the pain had receded considerably so much so that I thought I’d give the bike a try. This was my second assault on Mow Cop and it’s notorious ‘killer mile’ and in parts 25% incline. Thankfully I was able to get up it in one go and by the time I reached the top (where my cycling buddy had finished about 90 seconds before me) - I think it was the nearest I had come to puking when on the bike. As you’ll see on the pic I was certainly blowing hard by the finish.

So it was a mixed few days on foot and by bike. The way the achilles reacted  after the race has convinced me to focus on the cycling for the rest of the summer so that I can really smash it when the Wild Wales Challenge part 3 comes at the end of August. I’ll see what the Liverpool Race Organisers come back with in terms of an official time and keep you all posted.

Til then I'll leave you with this pic from when I became the fifth Beatle after picking up my 50th Anniversay edition of Sgt Pepper from the Beatles store on Liverpool's famous Mathew St, on the stroke of midnight, straight after the Human League gig.

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