Grantchester is just a ridiculously beautiful little village. If you take the phrase ‘picture postcard village’ and then feed that description into an amplifier and crank it up to 11, then you’re somewhere near being able to give an impression of what it feels like to be wandering through Grantchester. Driving through the village prior to the run I bask in the glow of village loveliness arraying itself neatly alongside the winding lanes. I glance to the right and see the church grounds all covered in snow.
This is October, it’s about 12 degrees Celsius, there shouldn’t be snow.
Maybe it wasn’t snow. Could it have been a huge amount of some kind of white blossom? My mind is zipping back and forth, performing somersaults and triple back flips as it struggles to comprehend what it’s just witnessed. Fortunately moments later we see a large studio lighting truck and I realise that the church has probably been decorated for the TV series, Grantchester.
We park up and all gather in a large field. There is a large inflatable that says start on one side and finish on the other. My mighty brain reaches the conclusion that this may be where we begin the run.
The ankle injury is still a long way from being healed so I’m not expecting a good time today. I began near the back of the pack aiming to finish in around 63 minutes. I often start these races near the back and I’m not entirely sure this is the right thing to do. I always spend the first few kilometres jammed in among the masses. I feel that I should be moving on but there’s nowhere to go until the field starts to thin out a little. This sounds like I should be starting further forward but then there is the possibility that I may set off too fast and then have nothing left in the tank for the finish. Alternatively am I being too careful and not really putting in as much effort as I could do?
Eventually a few gaps appear and I am able to start passing people. We cross the M11 and start meandering around across fields, through clumps of trees and then eventually back over the M11 several kilometres later. It is at around the 8 kilometre marker that I encounter a Mr motivation type guy. He is running just in front of a woman that I assumed was his partner. He was holding his hand out at around thigh height while looking back at her and making encouraging type noises. This looked such an odd thing to do that I hung back a little so that I could watch. What was she supposed to do with this hand that he was waving in front of her. It was a good kicking height. I wonder if she was tempted. “C’mon”, he was saying, “you can do this”. Over and over again he exhorted her to run a little faster, to push, to work to try harder etc etc. Surprisingly I never heard her swear at him or even try to kick that hand that he was waving in front of her. Eventually I decided to pass them and this seemed to turn up the dial on his motivational outbursts. “Look, you’re being passed”, he said. “He’s going right past you. You’ve really dropped off the pace. You’ve got to pick it up if you’re going to get in under an hour.” Still she said not a word but I think she started to run very slightly slower. Either his motivation was breaking her spirit or this was her form of rebellion. I left them behind but could still hear him shouting about how slow she was going long after I had reached the edge of the field and was heading toward the 9K marker.
I speeded up a little after 9K and was surprised that I still seemed to have plenty of energy. Maybe that answers the question I asked earlier. Possibly I am being too conservative and should try to push myself more from the start. I sprinted for the finish inflatable and crossed in a time of 57:51. Much faster than I had expected but possibly I could have finished quicker than that.
I wonder if the motivation couple managed to get to the end in less than an hour. Maybe if she looked like she was going to finish under the hour, she would have stopped and walked just to irritate him. I suspect motivation guy would have exploded in a mushroom cloud of anger and frustration if she had finished in 61 minutes. Twould have been quite a sight.
I was too busy queuing up for bacon sandwich and coffee to see who came in after me. I much approve of races providing bacon and coffee. I have far too many running t shirts now. I would much prefer bacon.
The medal looks quite classy. It has a blue background with a picture of a clock with the hands at 10 to 3. This is in homage to the poet Rupert Brooke who lived at the Old Vicarage in Grantchester and wrote a poem called ‘The Old Vicarage’ which ends with the words:
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?