19 March 2017
After using Commando’s ice pack, a compression thingamajig, ibuprofen and lots of elevation, I’d like to say the knee was as good as new. Unfortunately, that would be telling lies. It was swollen, felt hot and throbbed like mad. Bending was a no go, kneeling didn’t bear thinking about. What I probably should have been doing on Sunday morning, after a sleepless night, was resting and continuing with the RICE treatment. What I actually did was go to the Eastleigh 10k.
Commando was one of the pacers so we had a super early start.
“Why don’t you give it a miss?” he said when I groaned my way out of bed at silly o’clock. “Have a lie in. Rest your knee.”
“There’ll be no one to take the team photo if I don’t go,” I said. “Besides, it hurts too much to sleep. Moving about might do it some good. It’s not as if I’m going to be running or even walking any further than Costas.”
Commando pointed out there would be other people there with cameras but I hate to miss a race or a coffee, so I strapped up my knee, took some more ibuprofen and packed the camera. Before anyone points out how much I moaned when Commando wouldn’t rest his broken leg, I know, OK?
The Eastleigh 10k was the first race Commando ever ran and he’s run it many times since then. In fact he paced it last year too so this was hardly a new thing for him. We parked up in the car park off Magpie Lane and headed slowly off across the field towards Fleming Park, accompanied by Tash, who we’d bumped into in the car park.
The leisure centre is undergoing a bit of a revamp so there were hoardings and scaffolding around the outside of the building taking up a large proportion of the playing field. I couldn’t help wondering how it would impact the race finish or what, exactly, they were building. A whole new leisure centre by the look of it. In the VIP changing room we met up with Gerry and Theresa. Gerry was also pacing but Theresa, who is recovering from injury, was there as a cheerleader, just like me.
There wasn’t much time for hanging around in the changing room. Gill soon organised everyone for the team photo. Eastleigh is obviously a popular race with Spitfires, probably because it’s close to home, and it was tricky getting everyone in. As usual, a few people missed out on the main photo, mostly because of parking issues and toilet queues. The trouble is, once the majority are assembled, they don’t want to hang about to wait for stragglers and I never know who’s meant to be there and who isn’t. You can’t please everyone I guess, but you can take extra photos on request.
Teresa and I were just about to nip off to Costas before it got too crowded with race spectators when a call came for a Pacers team photo. The usual suspects lined up in their pacer t-shirts and, with the picture snapped, we hobbled up the road for our coffees. Normally I walk up to Costas as soon as the race has started and end up queuing so long for my coffee I have to dash straight back for the race finish if I don’t want to miss Commando. It was Teresa’s brilliant idea to go before the race began. The place was deserted and we were soon walking back coffee in hand. This is a plan I fully intend to use in future.
When we got back everyone was beginning to make their way to the start line. Commando was already in the crowd somewhere but I couldn’t see him. Maybe next year they should consider bright pink pacer shirts, balloons or bunny ears like the Great South Run, because the blue and white ones were hard to spot. Soon they were counting down to the start and there were still streams of people, some walking, some running down Passfield Avenue towards the start, seemingly unaware.
The race is sponsored by Hendy Ford in Eastleigh and they provide some fancy looking cars to start the race. With no hope of finding Commando, I hobbled to a spot just ahead of the cars to watch the race start. Maybe I’d see him when he ran past? Then they were off.
With so many runners it was never going to be easy to spot Commando or any of the Spitfires, but I did my best. More by luck than judgement I managed to capture a few. Commando was not one of them though.
Soon the runners began to thin out and I knew I must have missed him, especially when Tamsyn’s husband Stewart ran past with a very snug looking baby in a fancy running buggy. Behind him were Kim and Vicky, the tail runners. Kim gave me a smile and a wave. Now it was time to hobble back to the field and try to get some finish photos.
With all the building work going on it was fairly chaotic around the finish line. At first I thought I’d found a good spot to take photos. It got very crowded very quickly though, with groups of runners stopping to chat and wait for friends rather than heading along the funnel. At one point it looked like runners were having trouble actually getting across the line there were so many of pexpletives standing about chatting. They could have done with some parkrun style funnel managers to move people along. In fact I was sorely tempted to shout at them myself. Maybe I should have volunteered as a marshal?
As usual, some of the finishers looked as fresh as daisies, while others collapsed in heaving, panting heaps as soon as they’d crossed the line. Of course the scattered bodies only added to the finish line chaos and it was soon clear decent photos were going to be hard to come by.
Somehow I managed to capture the first of the Spitfires across the line but it quickly became impossible to see anything. Commando hadn’t come past, as far as I could tell, but it was obvious it was time to cut my losses and head back towards the VIP changing room. Apart from anything else, my knee was beginning to throb and ache and I needed to find somewhere to sit down.
It was a long, slow walk across the field with a lot of stops to talk to Spitfires who’d finished and made it through the funnel. Amongst them I bumped into Rose, my friend from Silver Helm, proudly wearing her finishers medal.
So that was the thirty third Eastleigh 10k. Somehow I’d managed to stay on my feet long enough to watch the whole thing and I’d even taken a few photos of Spitfires. Commando, the one Spitfire I really wanted a photo of, managed to escape me though. Oh well, I suppose there is always next year. Hopefully by then the building work will be finished and maybe they’ll have a few funnel mangers.
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