Steve Whittaker's Friday 5s

Having only done the Kirton 5 before I thought it might be interesting to have a go at some of the other Friday 5 mile Series this year, taking place over the last three weeks. Brief report with 3 down: 
All three very different so far in both conditions and terrain, and interesting to try courses which are totally unfamiliar. Quite a few Shufflers out and a couple of guys from work to compare notes with.
First off Ipswich - All the chat at the start was about "the hill", worryingly. Quite warm and a bit breezy. Start and finish at St Joseph's, headed off due south down a steep hill, under the A14 and up the other side through Belstead village, then across sandy fields blowing up dust clouds into your eyes and lungs. Loop back and last mile or so up "the hill". Kept a bit in the tank, so managed to keep going on this last stretch, though there were quite a few walking, and back up to the college. Nice setting, would do it again.
Next up Kirton - perfect conditions, quite cool, kept layers on until the last minute. Usual tactics of hurtling off to the gate at the end of the field and then being passed for the next 2 miles. Good pace though, and a 5 mile PB for me.
This week was Stowmarket (held at Hawley Park) - On the face of it a nice setting in rolling parkland and woodland. In reality, gale force winds, a twisty narrow course and very very slippy in the mud. Two laps, first of which adopting a cartoon-like banana skin running technique trying to stay upright (much to the amusement of the younger suppler runners nearby). One guy blasted past me twice at pace only to end up on his a**e, the third time he kept going though. There was shelter amongst the trees, but the finish was up a stoney steep slope with a 28 mph head wind. All hopes of a PB dashed, but highly entertaining.   Approx times for the three: just over 35, 33 and 36 mins respectively.

Final instalment on the Friday 5 races (for anyone thinking of next year  ;-)   ):
Bury – picturesque setting for the start in Tatton Park south of Bury, though got a bit cold waiting to start in the drizzle. A fairly muddy lap of the park before heading out on the country lanes and the sun came out. About 1 mile of long uphill drag before turning back and trying to make up some lost places on the steeper descent. Seemed to take a long time to get to the park and struggled to get a rhythm with some old guy stomping and gasping in my ear for most of the way back. Into the trees and a boggy sprint to the line. 99th, 33:45 but my best age category placing of the 5. Excellent tea and chips.
Great Bentley - was this Friday and another longish drive again good to share with some Shufflers.  This was billed as the must do race to get your PB, flat and all on roads. More of a mental test with long straight sections with lots of time to dwell on how far ahead those who had passed you (and had considered hanging onto) had got. Found this the hardest. Missed a PB by 10 secs. 96th 33:15. Glorious huge slab of fruit cake to refuel.
All in all, great to have completed the full set (all different), sadly I still get a buzz from pinning on a number.
No series placings published yet but by my calculations I ended up with 8th place for my age category, so chuffed with that.
Strangely my entry to Ipswich as a Woodbridge Surfer got translated to be a Woodbridge Shuffler, so felt compelled to join.

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