The weekend saw the 155th Heckington Show – a quintessential show celebrating and championing the best of rural life and pursuits. It is purportedly ‘The Largest Village Show In England!”
As part of the event schedule it hosts a 10 mile road race in the surrounding fenland, this too continuing some sense of nostalgia having been first held since 1965 and making a solid claim as one of the longest running races in the entire Midlands.
History lesson over, it was time to race on a Saturday morning that dawned changeable, and concerningly for runners a stiff breeze was developing.
As it happened, the thing that blighted runners was the warm (of late ‘fleeting’) sunshine that broke through the clouds for much of the race.
Starting in the Showground with a rather awkward and chaotic two laps of a grass bicycle circuit, runners headed into the village proper, then toward to the pan flat fenlands, before turning around to do it pretty much all again – the only hint of elevation the A17 fly over, which was crested four times.
The two-lap nature of the course did allow for in race support as clubs members encouraged and ‘high fived’ along the way.
Runners finished in the showground, with a crowd having built up through the morning.
Red hot and keen to sign off a stunning Spring and Summer was Russel Whittaker. He had ambitions of a sub-60-minute clocking and set off as such. A halfway assessment concluded that the cold he was suffering from was taking too much of a toll and he eased down a gear. Nevertheless, it was still a strong effort clocking him in 01:02:50.
Likewise, Sam Jepson had been considering lopping his own head off in the pursuit of a cure for sinusitis the days before. A ‘CIITFIB’ attitude saw him ease in, then after two miles run semi-decently; a negative split indicative.
Not racing a ten-miler since the 2019 edition of the same race saw him realise a 4 minute 10 second PB in 01:05:44.
Changing hardware recently and having little aspirations of what to expect in his ten mile debut, Robin Atter came away all smiles as he too started within himself and went along at a merry clip to finish in somewhat quicker than his wildly inaccurate guestimate of 1:20, finishing in 01:13:09.
Second claim club member, Kirsty Dickens was next from the doctor’s office to the start line, a chest infection lingering still resulted in a great 01:17:22 only fading, understandably, in the last 2 miles.
Nicci Whittaker ran with the theme of illness (we might cobble together a fit member between us soon!) having been sidelined with a chest infection of late. Still, growing with every race and distance she runs it was a solid opening gambit at a slightly longer race distance – the base level and 18+ months of good training now coming through.
As a mark of this, she was left disappointed clocking: 01:23:51, still very good by most standards!
Smashing his own expectations, Simon Allsopp was chuffed with his race. Initially targeting 90 minutes he felt good from the off and kept the tempo and work rate going to the end, arms pumping and striding across the finish line. His time of 01:27:28; a great result!
Undoubtedly, the performance of the day came from the young Emma Duncan, positively beaming with delight afterwards she paced her run beautifully, sticking to her game plan, clicking off mile after mile with race nous and maturity belying her age. The impact of bigger mileage and speedwork driving her home.
Remarkably, it represented a superb six minute twenty-eight second personal best in 01:29:38! Not basic in any way!
Runners were rewarded with a bright red technical race T-shirt and could soak in the show afterward. The evening literal ‘show stopping’ firework display being a highlight in and amongst the very British vegetable growing competition, fair rides, local craftsmen, and food stalls selling their wares.
The race was won comfortably by Matt Williams of Notts AC in 54:57 and Emma Hodson of Cambridge Hare and Hounds in 59:05 respectively.