Fred Hughes 10 miler is a club favourite and it finally returned last weekend for the first time since 2020. It was such a great feeling to be back - I highly recommend this race.
Being in January, it is a great start to the year and is brilliantly organised by St Albans Striders. The huge turnout from the club was brilliant to see and be a part of, around 40 Hoopsters. Some new to running at Fred Hughes and others who had done it many times before.
The incline hills are definitely a challenge at Fred Hughes; the course description is undulating and it was just that, including several challenging hills. I remember being asked at the race how hilly is Fred Hughes? My answer was, 'hilly but an enjoyable race'.
For me, the track sessions have been an incredible source of guidance and support in helping me as a runner. Whereas two years ago I found the race a struggle, this became an enjoyable challenge.
The day before the race, I chose not to think about the course too much as my plan was to enjoy the parkrun, which I ran the day before. I woke up early on Sunday and shared a car journey with fellow Hoopsters - thanks to Saikat, who drove us to the race and actually got us there quite quickly.
It was a cold morning and we gathered outside in the car park after collecting our race numbers. There was a great race day atmosphere, a real buzz and great chance to catch up with everyone before we took a group photo. The atmosphere was incredible, every runner looked glad to be back.
I spoke to a few Hoopsters before the run...
...John W who said he felt he hadn’t trained enough. I told him I felt the same, we laughed as he jokily said he was now worried...
...Tim L and his inspirational talk and strategy inspired me a great deal, so thank you Tim...
...and finally, our President Jen Armson, wishing her good luck for the race.
It was then nearing the start time so we all made the short journey to the start line and then we were off!
I saw several runners race around the halfway mark and waved to Matt Kitching, as he took the race photos.
I then caught up with Victor and Natalie, a special thanks to them both, they inspired me, as initially I was in front, and their support helped me a great deal.
When I approached the hills this is where the track sessions and weekday hill training helped, and at the 7th mile I saw Patrick B race past - he was very fast.
By the 8th mile I felt some discomfort in my right foot, a blister, but I decided to continue; I wasn’t going to slow down.
As I waved and thanked the marshals, one more hill appeared as Victor and Natalie caught up. I followed as they moved into the distance, tracing the racecourse back to the start.
And then we were done - crossing the finishing the line I glanced at my watch...
I had managed to complete the race in 1H 30 Minutes!
Two years ago it had taken me 1h 57 minutes.
This was a PB, (personal best) by 27 minutes, I was speechless!
Soon after the race I caught up with Tim and said thank you for the inspired pre race talk and other fellow Harriers. Then after had a great post race chat with Sam and Gildas, as well as others.
Big congratulations to Jen A and Andy M, both coming 4th female and male respectively, and the women’s team coming 2nd and men’s 3rd, incredible achievement.
Special thanks to, Gildas, Sophie, Fiona, and all the coaches who make track possible every week and everyone’s incredible effort.
This is definitely one of my favourite races of the year what a great way to start the New Year, a great start to January.