Fulham RC were out in force on Sunday morning, heading up to north London for the Watford Autumn 10k race. One of our members, John, is a Watford local and had tipped us off about this race, promising some fun off-road trails and an exciting course.
Despite the long-ish bus and Overground commute from Fulham, the gang arrived in Cassiobury Park on the outskirts of Watford just before 10am for race number and timing chip, loo stop and warm up. We stripped off to our stripes and with a few minutes to go before kick off, together we headed to the start line. Three gals and three gents, with high hopes of strong finishes and team prize winning potential, plus Nige who joined for good measure rocking his Carnethy vest as he was visiting for the weekend. We were race ready and eager to explore…
The course took us on a 2.5km straight line through the park followed by a 5km loop around some beautiful, undulating trails and finished with the same 2.5km stretch back to the finish. After going out far too fast for the first mile, I found my groove and a nicely paced group of men and stuck with them, clocking off each kilometre. The middle part of the course threw many short, sharp hills at us, it never really felt as thought any part was particular flat, and I found myself flying down the hills as usual, loving life, and then struggling on the ascents. I was too-ing and fro-ing with a group of about four gents most of the way round, some who were better on the ups than the downs, some who seemed to be doing interval training and storming the flatter straights then slowing down considerably on any from of ascent or descent. One minute I was being overtaken by a jogger (their name not mine, it was short for Watford Jogger – the host club) and then I would catch them all of a sudden and breeze past them. I don’t know if it was my pace that was all over the place or theirs, but I felt quite consistent so kept at it, finding my strengths on the downs and gritting my teeth on the hills and getting them over with as soon as I could.
The course was very well marked and there must have been over twenty marshals out too, all pointing us in the right direction as well as cheering us on. After many an up and down we finally got back to where we had started our loop, so with what I thought was just over 2km to go on already trodden paths I tried to strike for home. We got back into the main part of the park much quicker than I anticipated however and I realised the course was going to come in well short of 10km so I was running out of time to make any places up. I spotted Stuart and Nige on the sidelines cheering me on and the 200m to go sign shortly after, but I had nothing left to give to the finish, my legs were moving as fast as they could and that wasn’t very speedy!
I crossed the finish line pretty happy but also a little disheartened at my lack of speed towards the finish, I just didn’t have any more to give in the latter stages of the race, something I usually like to keep for a good sprint at the end. Sophie had a great race to place 3rd lady and with myself in 5th and Daphne in 8th place we bagged the 1st Ladies team prize, and my first trophy to add to the collection in a long time! Fulham RC mens team also came first overall so with a clean sweep it turned out to be a great morning in Watford and I would definitely recommend checking out the trails in Cassiobury Park if you’re a local, or maybe befriend a Watford Jogger, they seemed like a friendly bunch!