Race track running calls for a certain steel

Goodwood Motor Circuit race track running

Goodwood Motor Circuit was the venue for my first competitive 10k in two years. And it served as a reminder that race track running is a tough nut to crack.

Organised by RunThrough events, the Goodwood Running GP in the Sussex Downs has plenty to shout about. Not least ample parking, umpteen toilet blocks and miles of track.

First up was dealing with the human-inspired moral panic of a fuel shortage in the UK. Put simply there is no shortage, just unnecessary panic which has led to pumps being shut and long queues.

So, having displayed some smooth Lewis Hamilton-like driving in protecting my petrol levels for an 80-mile round trip, I arrived at the famous race track.

In current, pandemic times, there is a new way of doing things at races.

Here, race packs are collected on-site rather than sent by post. Remember: it’s always important to leave yourself enough time to clean up the blood after inevitably stabbing your fingers when trying to attach a race number to a vest with safety pins.

Also, attaching the chip timer to your raceday shoes (below). Don’t rush. This always gives me the heebie-jeebies. What type is it going to be? Is it going to be fiddly? Will there be instructions? All these questions go through my mind leading up to an event.

Chip timing label on running shoe

Runners are called out according to a time range they hope to break. As the tannoy barks out a timescale you fancy, head to the line.

There is no longer a big wait with many others at the start. You’re not held for as long either, which is handy for not stiffening up as so often happens. It’s a well organised morning.

Socially distanced running

I’m currently clocking a race pace where I’m not troubling many in front, but have enough in the tank to find a solitary spot, naturally socially distanced, in mid-field.

Whatever distance you choose to run, the mental side, not just physical, plays a big role. Race track running in particular can be a lonely business.

A big reason is there is less variety in route. So getting familiar with your inner strength is handy. My choice of the 10k is an out-and-back before two laps of the motor circuit. The marathon distance around the same venue takes in 11 laps of the circuit! Hats off to them.

Pre-race reading will try and kid you. It is likely you have seen the phrase: “Fast, flat, perfect for a PB”.

Race track running might be flat… just in the sense there’s no potholes! But that doesn’t stop there being a dizzying array of cambers that your hamstrings won’t thank you for.

Once done, these days there is less ceremony at the finish too. Swipe your medal from the hand of an organiser and get yourself outta there!

Goodwood has played host to such luminaries as Stirling Moss, David Coulthard and Damon Hill. As for my turn on the track, it certainly proved a hard physical and mental test. Flat never means easy. Next time I’ll do it in a car…

Race track running pin

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