Week-long Welwyn 10K is a massive success for Garden City Runners
- Credit: Garden City Runners
Taking part in virtual events while improvising and adapting normal training schedules has become imbued into Garden City Runners since the first lockdown began.
Scenarios where they would be competing solo against their own times, or simply running socially with friends, have necessarily replaced the adrenalin rush of taking part in massed organised events.
Seven years ago GCR established the Welwyn 10K to coincide with Welwyn Festival Week. This grew exponentially until 2020, when Covid forced it to be cancelled.
“After that disappointment we were determined the race would go ahead this year—but in a different format,” explained race organiser, Louise Smith.
”The race team worked hard to ensure this would happen. Since it was unprecedented, it required a lot of innovation, while still needing to conform to council requirements.”
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Hence for this year only, runners were invited to complete the course—starting as usual from Singlers Marsh—anytime between 6am and 8pm during the Festival Week (June 25-July 3).
“The reaction from runners was wholly positive,” said Louise.
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“Some were delighted to be able to run it quietly with a few friends, whilst others relished the opportunity of being able to run early or late in the day and take advantage of the long June days. In fact a number of PBs were recorded.”
The event attracted well over 200 local runners, many of whom commented on how well the course had been signposted. The circular route itself took runners out of Singlers Marsh, through Welwyn village, up the notorious 1-in-9 gradient of Whitehill and out through the countryside around Ayot and Codicote, throwing in a second challenging hill before the end.
All runners received a unique 2021 high visibility t-shirt in advance, which they were encouraged to wear, and could pose in a special Selfie Frame at the finish. Results were logged and a leader board constantly updated during Welwyn Festival Week.
Proceeds were again donated to the Welwyn Festival charities, with the event sponsored by HRJ Foreman Laws, Netherdown and Tarmac.
Topping the leader board for the men was Neil Hume (37:55) and for the women Katie Tamblin (45:24).
Louise Smith said the revised format had highlighted unanticipated benefits: “Some of our newer runners said they would have found it too intimidating to enter an event like this in its conventional form, and that this presented them with a more relaxed setting.
"Also we were delighted with the favourable comments on social media, thanking us for staging such a professional event under extraordinary circumstances.
“However, there is no substitute for the excitement of a massed field setting off at the start of a race, and so we look forward to normal service being resumed next year.”