Bury 10k Returns
There was only one target left standing when I lined up at the start of the Bury 10k. I had set out at the start of 2022 with 4 time-based targets to improve my personal bests over 5km, 10km, half-marathon and full marathon distance. And I have achieved them. But, in doing so, I realised that the targets didn’t really matter anyway.
I’ve talked about focusing on the journey before. Realising that the journey was, and always has been, more important than achieving an arbitrary target opened up new opportunities. I love listening to my childhood hero, Jonny Wilkinson, and his thoughts on exploring or controlling a situation. Try to control it and the opportunity becomes smaller. Focus on exploring what a situation might hold and you experience it differently, it opens up and becomes bigger.
In contrast to The Great Lancaster Half Marathon which took place in unseasonably mild conditions, yesterday may generously be described as chilly. Keeping warm before the start was a tough ask and the cafes on The Rock that had opened early for the occasion were packed with runners and spectators alike who took shelter from the weather by keeping out of it.
The first half of the Bury 10k is unrelentingly uphill. The run up to Tottington is not a big climb, only 320ft or so, but enough of an incline for you to know about it. I only began exploring negative splits earlier this month and yesterday was the perfect opportunity to test the theory again. It would be hard to do otherwise on a course with Bury’s elevation profile. There again, 10ks are far too short to leave too much in the tank. Pacing well is a skill I’m still honing.
The route was not lined with as many spectators as in years gone by. This had two immediate consequences – spotting familiar faces became easier and there was less distraction from the task at hand. Depending on how your run was going, that was either of benefit or to your detriment. A Hungarian Vizsla howled her support as we set off away from Bury – I think she was my favourite spectator of all.
The outward route was familiar from the Madness Marathon. Totty Road slowly unfurls itself as you arc round to the right, gradually working away up the steady climb. Cruelly, the road dips suddenly immediately prior to the turn around point, giving another sharp short incline away from the half way mark itself. Then, there is a welcome opportunity to lengthen the stride and up the pace as you retrace your steps before turning left and joining the old railway lines back to Bury.
The only challenge of note in the second half was the climb past Castlecroft garage. It felt rudely steep at the 9km point. Once the short burst past the garage was over, the route swung left, through the streets of Bury to the finish where a small crowd was gathered in support.
As I achieve the times I once admired in other runners, I realise that times themselves are relatively meaningless. It is the experience, the shared camaraderie and the personal achievements-over-adversities that count. And, perhaps, that is why running is such an integral part of who I am. I will likely never finish first, nor be the most efficient runner with a textbook running style. But striving, however incrementally, to be a better runner, means something. Running is not an escape from life but the purest form of life itself, of human form.
And that meaning is only amplified by the strength of feeling I have towards others within the running community. Each person doing the same – trying their best to be better runners or, perhaps even better, just being. I admire those who run happily regardless of time. Some ran timelessly, never even looking at the clock, a few without even a watch! I don’t know how but I admire their freedom from the artificial marker of time that we have imposed on this primal activity.
The best part of the Bury 10k wasn’t crossing the finish line, nor seeing my watch light up with a PB I’d craved years before. The best part was simply seeing others cross the line, happy with their day’s running. Some were first time 10k finishers, others coming back from injury, the vast majority giving their best on a difficult course to achieve a hard earned time they could be proud of. Running has its own significance that exists almost in isolation. For a moment the chaos of the outside world ceased to matter.
The Bury 10k had returned.