Two Arms on Two Legs 10K
Race name - Canal and River Trust & On The Run 'Two Arms on Two Legs' Running Festival
Distance - 10K
Runner – Graham Cooper
Approx # Competitors – 500 (10K & Half Marathon combined)
Price - £13 (£15 for the Half – discounts for EA affiliated runners). Excellent value!
What you have to show for it – Drawstring sports bag & an impressive looking medal. (Race tech. running shirts available to buy/pre-order).
Course Description – Canal towpath (Aylesbury Arm of the Grand Union Canal) from Oakfield Road Park in Aylesbury to Marsworth. (The Half Marathon continued onto the Wendover Arm as far as a school in Wendover – hence the ‘Two Arms on Two Legs’ designation.)
Reality of Course Description – A lap of the modestly sized Oakfield Road Park on grass and then (mostly earth) towpath all the way to Marsworth. Generally flat with occasional but very short, steep inclines – sometimes steps – at locks.
Water and Fuel Stations - A water station approximately half way and bottled water and bananas provided at the finish.
Time of year - Sunday 11th September 2016
Why I chose this race – I wanted to see if the unexpectedly fast time I’d managed at Bearbrook in my first ever 10K a month earlier had been ‘beginner’s luck’! Plus I particularly enjoy the canal & waterway environment. The race also seemed to be in keeping with my personal preference to avoid, where possible, Event Management-type races in favour of those organised by or involving running clubs.
Organisation – Mostly good. Race packs were only available for collection on the day but a dedicated page on the Canal & River Trust website plus a dedicated Facebook page provided all relevant information. There were no parking facilities at the start so town centre pay parking was the only option (requiring a short walk/jog to the start), but a clubhouse-type building with adequate toilets adjacent to the start served as Race HQ where a plentiful supply of safety pins was thoughtfully provided for attaching race numbers. A free shuttle bus returned runners from both (10K & Half) finishes to the start but I didn’t use this, my wife dropping me in Aylesbury & meeting me at Marsworth where free parking had been arranged by the race organisers in an obliging farmer’s field.
Runners were staggered and started in waves according to predicted time – it won’t surprise those of you that know me to learn that I missed my allocated wave while in deep conversation – thankfully the race was chip-timed! There were numerous friendly marshals en-route – some with cowbells and rattles. Regrettably the supply of medals ran out at the 10K finish but this was promptly rectified at no cost by post within a week of the race for runners who responded to an emailed apology. It being a glorious day, and the Marsworth locks & reservoirs a considerable attraction, there was significant foot traffic on the 10K ‘home straight’, requiring evasive action in order to avoid a collision with oblivious pedestrians at this point.
This appears to have been a first running event by the organisers (the successors – now of Charitable status - of the former British Waterways) in collaboration with Aylesbury running club On The Run. An excellent first effort in my opinion, notwithstanding the organisational teething troubles regarding finish medals & home straight marshalling for the 10K, which I imagine are understandable for an inaugural attempt.
Feedback Summary –I had the inestimable pleasure of LFR member Julia Masters’ company during the inevitably nervous moments waiting for the start plus the friendly conversation of other fellow runners including a delightful couple who it transpired regularly volunteer at Tring parkrun. My time of 1:03:50 failed to match the sub-60 time I managed at Bearbrook - I think perhaps the absence of the team spirit/encouragement/competitiveness of multiple LFR runners may have been a contributory factor – but it was still a time I’d have been proud to contemplate on the start line at Bearbrook and in slightly warmer conditions too.
Will I be back - Yes – I hope to be ready to tackle the Half Marathon and get to experience the Wendover Arm too assuming the event is repeated next year.
Tips for next time – For the race organisers: better attention to marshalling at the busy 10K home straight in future. For runners who enjoy post-run real ale or cider: seek out Marsworth’s unsung backstreet Red Lion pub which was considerably less busy than the equally good Angler’s Retreat nearer to the 10K finish line.
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