In my years of running this is the first time that I have tackled this race, mainly due to compulsory marshalling when at Telford Harriers and as it is one so local and well known I have a need to bag it!
I leave home just after 09.00 so as to be at Telford early but the journey is stressed as I back up behind three slow crawling tractors for some considerable distance before eventually overtaking them on ****** ****e lines. There is more stress at the Randley Interchange where I find the traffic is all stacked up all the way down to the hotel due to an old car convention taking place nearby. I sit in the queue a few minutes before deciding to drive to the next turn off for the town centre to then go back on myself. This works and I find a place to park in the Cherry Pink carpark. I find I am still in good time for the start at 10.30.
I make my way over to the information office in the Town Park to register and collect my race number; waiting outside the building are the other six members of Bridgnorth Running Club namely Lou, Jenny, Deb, Ed, Dave and Robin who are taking part in the half marathon. A brief chat is had with each and Jenny organises a group photo for the Facebook.
At 10.15 I make my way to the start line in the arena but on arrival an announcement is made saying that the race will be delayed by fifteen minutes due to the traffic congestion in the town. Despite it being blue sky and bright sunshine a cold wind has developed and I begin to feel cold, nobody likes race delays as it undoes a lot of the pre race preparation.
A couple of minutes before the new start time, the race director gives out notices of what to expect, including mention of a lot of mud on the Rough Park section of the race, she then sounds the clangon to start and I press my GPS on the chip mat. The race immediately turns right up the hill back towards the information centre before turning left to go past the rugby club and then left to descend down a narrower track to join the Parkrun route in reverse. I go past Ed on the narrower track but expect him to come past me later. He doesn’t. After a loop of the park passing the hotel and Alice in Wonderland the route follows the Silkin Way down to Coalport, much of it being in descent and I feel I am running well and getting past many other competitors. I note the mile markers and mile two to three seems a particularly short distance probably due to it being all downhill. At Coalport Bridge the race is already at mile 5 and I glimpse Nickie on the other footway out of the corner of my eye who shouts me some encouragement as I run past. Just after the turning onto the old SVR track there is a welcome drinks station and I rehydrate. The old railway bed is quite dry today and I make good progress to the Ironbridge where I am amazed at the large crowd of spectators so there is no slacking here. I hear someone shout for Bridgnorth but do not see them. It is then onwards over the uneven flagstones down to Merrythorpe and beyond as I start to cross the road only to be told off by the marshall to go back and use the pedestrian crossing. The marshall is of course quite correct for what she did as safety hazards must always be considered.
The race now turns right up the tarmac lane which climbs steadily up to Coalbrookdale and Enginuity. Here some jelly beans are handed out, I take a couple but am suspicious as to whether they are vegetarian or not. Once over the road at the bottom of Jigger’s Bank the race continues straight ahead and another water station is reached. I take a bottle to drink some and pour some more of it over my head to cool me down.. The route is now on a gravel path and slightly up hill but I still feel strong as the course reaches Rough Park where deep puddles and bounds of mud have to be negotiated and I have to pick my way without getting my legs too dirty! This section also becomes quite undulating. Still in the park but just before the exit by the windmill I meet William and Emma running towards me from the opposite direction and I have a high five greeting with one hand for each of them. It is now back onto the Silkin Way to retrace the last three miles passing another water station where Art Zammit hands me an orange gel to go with my bottle of water. The race is soon back on the familiar territory of the Telford Parkrun once again passing the Alice in Wonderland but my legs are by now getting tired and my speed is far below par for a parkrun. The sign for 400 metres to go is seen and I put in a full effort on the final climb back into the arena. My chip time is 1.42.49, position 142 / 678 and I feel very satisfied with how I have run today.
After collecting my goody bag and doing some stretching I walk down to the amphitheatre by the lake to watch the other runners come in and offer them some encouragement as a young boy blows a trumpet each time a runner goes past him urging them on. Once Jenny goes past I wander back up to near the finish point to continue seeing the runners coming home.
To summarise, this is an excellent course to run but not one for a PB, maybe I will be back next year for some more!