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Sunday saw the inaugural Wimborne 20 race, an undulating (some might say hilly) 3 lap run through the Dorset countryside.
Before commencing my marathon training, a 20 mile race was one of those things that I would be vaguely aware was happening, but was immediately filed under ‘not for me’. Just the thought of running 20 miles made my legs ache, with my furthest race distance being half marathon.
But now I’m training for the Brighton Marathon on April 17th, so a faster paced 20 miles under race conditions was exactly want I needed. My long runs have been between 18-21 miles for the last 4-5 weeks so I felt prepared for the distance. It was my hope to do the whole race at marathon pace (6:50/mi) to see whether I COULD actually even run that fast for that far! I figured if I could run 20 miles at marathon pace without tapering then, with 6 weeks still to go, I might have a chance of doing it for 26.2 miles!
This was the very first Wimborne 20 race. There used to be another local 20 miler called the Mad March 20 but this seemed to stop after it had to be cancelled due to flooding one year. So there was a perfect space in the race calendar for a new 20 miler…
Starting in a small village called Gaunts Common near Wimborne at a primary school there appeared to be ample parking close to the start. I parked up on a verge near the school as did lots of others and some were directed towards the school playing field to park up. I LOVE races where they send you out your race pack before the event; they’re always so much calmer than the throngs of queuing runner you otherwise see. Park up, warm up, race – what could be easier?!
The start line was in the school field and included a little loop of this, before then doing a short loop of Gaunts Common and then heading out onto the three 7(ish) mile laps proper.
Before the race, the thought of running 20 miles in 3 laps filled me with dread however once the race began, it was actually quite motivational knowing exactly what you’d run and what there was still to go. The course profile hadn’t looked that hilly on the website however I can tell you – it’s hilly. Even the great winner of the race Steve Way said so!
I was uming and ahing over whether to begin the race at slower than MP (around 7:20/mi) and build up to MP. But then I saw my marathon training partner Emma (she was first lady in the end) on the start line and she convinced me to start at 6:50s and keep this up for as long as possible! So I did. The first mile was 6:43, the second 6:42, the third (hilly) 6:56 etc etc. Kept on waiting for my legs to bonk but it was only at about 18.5 miles that it started to feel tough, with my legs increasingly complaining over the final 1.5 miles.
Completed the 20 miles in 2:14:15 at an average pace of 6:43/mi which gives me a lot of confidence going into the final 6 weeks of marathon countdown.
In summary, a very well organised race along an idyllic route and perfectly timed for marathon training season.
Full race results here