An important first step towards getting to know my bearings in Oxford is getting familiar with the local running scene. The Charlgrove 10K Running Festival, which took place on May 3rd at the village of Chalgrove in south Oxfordshire, was, I realised later, the first official race - well, fun run, was more like it - that I had ever run in the UK!
For this bank holiday, the organisers had designed a 10K single lap race course through local villages and the surrounding South Oxfordshire countryside, with the start and finish at the Chalgrove Village Festival ground.
There were about 220 runners participating in this first edition, and after the race, most stayed on for a chance to enjoy the Chalgrove Festival atmosphere. Dog show, kids' activities, arena displays, funfair, beer tent, food, helicopter rides, vintage cars and steam trains, rides, penalty shoot-out, craft stalls and many other attractions were there to enjoy!
At first a sudden hail seemed likely to ruin everything. Well, this is England, after all, I thought, trying to ascertain how it would be possible to run in these conditions! But then the rain miraculously stopped just minutes before the start and we all re-emerged from under the tents and were faced with a glorious sunshine!
As I was running and trying to maintain an under 5 min/km pace throughout, I could not help but admire the
vast expanses of bright green fields around me, a sight that for dryland Greece is not the norm.
Flat and green, great, I thought! And then, at the 6th km mark, a hill that made my legs burn, baby, burn!
Heath Bampton (Bristol and West) won the first ever race in 34 minutes and 56 seconds and Sue Street (Tipton Harriers) was the leading lady in 40 minutes and 30 seconds.
The second race is scheduled for 13.30pm on Bank Holiday Monday, May 2nd 2011. Hopefully ma and Colin can make it again!
P.S. Loved the color of the race T-shirt, a bright acqua blue. A keeper, even if these t-shirts are usually too big for me to wear except as nightshirts!