WHERE: Silverstone race track
WHEN: 3rd May 2015
"Don't set off too fast, pace yourself."
The advice from former Red Bull F1 driver, Mark Webber, which I should have taken – he did run 28km to my 17 last year, after all – but eleven kilometres later, it was quite clear I'd chosen to ignore this little nugget.
Despite the stiff creak of cold muscles at the start of the Wings for Life World Run, the thought of the 'finish line' car chasing me down, seemed enough to influence my speed. I was running fast, whizzing straight past Mr Webber and passing other runners as I ticked off the miles. But it was only after escaping the Silverstone race track onto surrounding country roads, when I realised I was on for a 10k PB!
In theory this was a great idea. The chaser car, this year driven by former F1 driver David Coulthard, had set off half an hour after the runners and was gradually gaining speed. As soon as it passed, your race was over. Speed was the key here. But, whilst focusing on collecting that 10k milestone, I'd forgotten one vital thing. In order to clock a decent distance before being caught, I'd have to keep running.
From then on, my running was erratic. I struggled to settle into a steady rhythm and spent most of my time seeing the same people over again – being overtaken as I retired to almost walking up the continuous hills and running past them as I sprinting downhill to compensate for lost time. Only the 17k marker brought comfort – anything beyond this point would be a PB for this unique race.
All I'd heard for, what felt like, hours was music quietly humming in my ears and my own heavy panting. The commotion of the finish line procession was a hard shake back to the task at hand. It was either excitement or terror that drove my sprint finish, annoyingly metres short of a nice round 19k.
My sulk was short lived. Sat on the shuttle bus that took us back to the race village, it was hard not to soak up the giddy atmosphere of those pumped with endorphins from running and adrenaline from being chased by a car. Back at Silverstone, where giant screens showed the remaining runners in the other 34 global events, which had started at the same time as the UK race, it was even harder to not feel some pride in what we'd been just done.
Every penny of the entry fee for the World Run goes to spinal cord injury charity, Wings for Life. You can pre-register for next year's race, here.