Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting all Geeky with The Ellenborough 10k 2010 and 2011

This is a great local race organised by The Ellenborough Athletics Club in Maryport, Cumbria.  The course is a real challenge starting with a gradual climb and then having some killer hills, one in particular.  Here is the course map, with the elevation.  Looks easy enough eh?

I think this was the second 10k race I ever entered and, unusually for me, I went back again the following year and entered a second time.  This gives me a great chance to get nerdy and use the excellent garmin connect software to compare my 2010 and 2011 runs.  First though, let's have another look at that elevation:

So the first two miles are a gradual climb before some mild downhill for about the next 3/4 of a mile and then a very steep downhill followed by a steep uphill (known as the Brian Taylor Hill) to mile four.  The last two miles should be fast and comfortable depending on how well you have paced the previous hills and whether you have bonked on the killer hill just before mile four. 

Now for the comparison:

For me, there were three key areas that make this course difficult.  First, the initial hill up to two miles.  Two miles uphill is a long way to run uphill.  In 2010 (right hand side) I had a slow start and then a very slow second mile where I was struggling towards the end of the hill.  In 2011 (left hand side) I had some knowledge of the course and elevation so I think I paced this hill better and, although I slowed down by about the same amount, my overall speed was quicker by a significant margin.

The second difficult part is the very steep downhill at about three and three quarter miles.  The course also turns sharply near the bottom of this hill (I think it is the kink just before the bridge).  In 2010, I almost ran out of road at this corner, going too fast.  In 2011, although slightly faster, I was definitely slowing down more for this corner so I would assume that I ran quicker on the other parts of the hill and opened up on the straight downhill sections.

The third difficult part was The Brian Taylor Hill at mile four.  Again, in 2011, I was aware that the hill was there.  In 2010, I was not and so did not think about pacing and keeping some energy in reserve.  Looking at miles four and five, they were actually slower in 2011 (despite having an overall faster time).  I certainly remember pulling back on the pace going up the hill but think that I actually found this harder than the relative sprint up in 2010.  This is reflected in the slower mile five in 2011 (by 10 seconds).

The final mile was marginally faster in 2011 but I remember feeling much more tired at the end in 2011, battling to not be overtaken whereas in 2010 I was able to overtake people and probably had a bit more energy left (you can actually see me in the 2010 video after I have finished, looking very comfortable (green shirt, you need to know what to look for).  Overall result in 2011 was faster by 30ish seconds, including the additional 0.02 of a mile that I ran!

Ok, geekfest over.  This is a really fun race to do.  The club is really friendly, it's really great value and they put on a huge buffet in the club house afterwards.  Have a look at this video which really sums up the race:

2010 race

2011 race

And here are the reviews on Runner's World.


  1. Nice comparison and well done! Did you have timing expectations the second time around, knowing the route? And are you doing it this year? ;)

  2. I always expect to beat my previous time. That's one of the minor set backs from running, diminishing returns. I think I really benefited from ignorance the first time around though.

  3. well i remember this race completed it in 2010 enjoyed it but still remember that hill