The Saltwell Harriers annual 10k road race, renamed the Ronnie Walker Saltwell Road Race in 2010 in appreciation of the Club’s long-serving, President, celebrated its centenary on Saturday 17th December 2011. Despite the demise of many other famous road races, the Saltwell race lives on as the oldest road race in England. The current course is three and a half laps along traffic free roads and park paths finishing in Saltwell Park.
Amongst the competitors this year were Olympians Aly Dixon and Sonia Samuels and other serious looking runners. As I looked around I became more and more concerned that perhaps this is a race out of my class. I moved further and further towards the back in the hope of spotting some fun runners and at last spotted two runners in fancy dress but even they looked fast.
The pace for the first kilometre was way too fast for me even though most of that section was mostly downhill the little grey cells were telling me to slow down but the little legs ignored them, that is until the second energy sapping steep climbs out of the park. On the plus side just after the second steep climb that led onto the gradual climb section there was a marshal dancing to very loud Christmas music and dishing out encouraging Banter, for some reason at each lap this made me feel fresher, at least for a few yards
At the start of the second leg the fast pack started lapping me, there nothing quite so disheartening as being lapped and soon it seemed that just about everyone had lapped me then my grandson lapped me and told me to push on and that I was well near the top half. I knew I wouldn’t finish there but now I felt confident that if I could maintain my pace I certainly wouldn’t be last which was my fear at the start. As I climbed the hills out of the park for the last time I thought there must be witchcraft going on in this park because every lap seemed longer than the previous one but soon the finish line was in sight and after crossing it and picking up my goody bag checked my time which turned out to be 61:04 and put me 54 places ahead of last. Given the course and field that was about as good as I could have hoped for so the legs and little grey cells left Saltwell Park fairly satisfied with their Goody bag which as you can see from the photo wasn’t too bad.