Lenton Predictor, 2023

After days of beautiful spring weather, it had to be the day of the inaugural Lenton Predictor that turned decidedly dreary, with drizzle all afternoon. Nevertheless, 27 hardy souls assembled on the start line at St Peter’s in Lenton for this twist on the usual race format. If you line up a selection of runners from the Club and ask them to race over a certain distance, most people would be able to have a decent stab at who is likely to cross the line first, second, third… Not today, though, because this run asked participants to leave their activity trackers behind – or at least put them out of sight and sound for the duration – and see how closely they could match a time they’d have to predict in advance.

Run director Paul Jepson had hoped to send runners out on a loop in the countryside near Lenton but waterboard road closure shenanigans meant a last minute change to an out and back course with a small detour at the end. From Lenton, runners headed north through Hanby on the Sapperton Road, then headed west towards Ropsley. The turnaround was at the triangle for the Little Humby turn off. As runners got close to Lenton once more, they were directed in a small loop around the Keisby Road, past the lake.

Paul pulled no punches with his briefing, informing the assembled runners that he’d promised them the course would challenge them. He also alluded to the fact that there would be hills, although perhaps wisely, he didn’t announce that there would be seven of them, though there were two in particular that runners reported noticing the most after their return, the 14 metre climb in just 0.2 of a mile, and the leg-destroying hill back up to the finish at St Peter’s; 10 metres in 0.1 of a mile.

The early runners all knew they’d run ahead of their predicted times, and no amount of slowing down in the last couple of yards would be quite enough to bring them close enough to their estimates. Chris Limmer was first home in 43:18; 42 seconds quicker than predicted. Not bad, but not close enough. Penny Hodges, the first lady home, in 50:59 achieved the dubious honour of the most seriously awry of her guess – seven minutes and a second quicker, nearly double the next largest difference!

Peter Jennings was thrilled to be told he’d run his race in 51:16; he’d predicted 51 minutes on the nose, but he’d have to wait to see if it was close enough to win. Julie Stewart came in a few minutes later, 17 seconds faster than her predication. She might be in the top three! In fact, the race remained in the balance until Wendy Fraser came in. Reports from marshals had indicated Wendy had been running with Judi Allsopp, but Wendy’s not a big fan of the hills, and the final ascent took its toll on battered legs. On this occasion, she might have cause to thank that hill, because it brought her over the line in 01:10:45, 15 seconds slower than her prediction. Perhaps if it’d been flat, she’d have put on a sprint and not been the closest time of the night, making Wendy Fraser the inaugural winner of the Lenton Predictor, with Peter Jennings in second and Julie Stewart in third, just a second separating each of them.

Despite the inclement weather, the runners were in high spirits and reported having enjoyed the undulating course and different challenge of trying to race to a predetermined time. A regular for the calendar, we think.

Thanks go to Paul Jepson for the idea and for organising it (with considerable assistance from wife Kath), and all of the crew of marshals, cake wranglers, tail runners and timekeepers for supporting the event, without whom, things like this can’t happen.

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