|Robert finishing strongly|
Grantham Running Club’s Robert McArdle took part in this year’s rescheduled Locke Park 20 which was one of the many races to fall victim to the snows in March. This race was originally planned as a warm-up for the spring marathons so could not be staged in the weeks immediately following the postponement. For Robert this meant rather being a chance to prepare for a marathon it came less than three weeks after he ran the Chester Marathon so was going into it a bit more tired than was ideal.
This is a tough race in which the runners have to negotiate 20 one mile laps of the park, to make it tougher the new route has two 180 degree turns which makes the athletes come to a dead stop and have to accelerate up to speed again during every mile, this means it is impossible to get into any sort of rhythm and effectively the race is a 2½ hour effort session!
In contrast to the first attempt to stage the event the weather was pretty much ideal, the last rainclouds blew off from the North sea, the sun came out and although the temperature was just above freezing the coastal winds were light. The only slight hitch was a generous covering of leaves on the paths. The start was crowded as the twenty milers were joined by those only planning to do the first ten laps which made judging pace against those around you quite tricky, after a conservative first mile Robert found a space to run in for three laps before he started lapping slower runners, by five miles he was being lapped himself and having to juggle the lines to avoid getting trapped behind slower competitors as he got out of the way for the fast guys.
|The medal with the original date|
By the time he went through half marathon distance in around 1:42 the course was beginning to clear to the point where he was often running alone. Tiring (or losing motivation) he went through 15 miles at 1:58 and with legs still heavy from his recent marathon realised that the target time of sub 2:40 was going to less straightforward that expected. A dramatic drop in pace in miles 18 and 19 left him needing a big final lap and with the GPS watch unable to help on the tight twisting circuit and no one else in sight he had to gamble with speed judgement as he ramped up his efforts to claw back over 45 seconds in the last kilometre to finish in 2:39:25 which earned him a WMA score of 71:27% and 10th place in the race.
Robert was also a beneficiary of all those spring race cancellations with regard to his UKA Masters Ranking, a slightly fortuitous set of circumstances saw even this tired performance allow him the pick up a ranking in the high sixties which could easily see him end the year as the highest ranked male veteran (over 34 years old) in Grantham Running Club!