One competitor in the 15th annual Running4Women Windsor Women's 10K on Saturday (29 September) was so concerned about her slow pace that she emailed the race organisers beforehand to make sure it was going to be OK for her to run.
Ellen Holmes was reassured by the generous time limits quoted by the organisers, so she lined up alongside a record field on the Long Walk in front of spectacular Windsor Castle and just two hours later was cheered home by hundreds of supporters to stand the timekeepers down (1,276th, 2:00:41).
Prior to setting off for Windsor, where she had never previously visited, Ellen posted this heartfelt message on the official event Facebook page: “I'm a little bit worried as I'm slower than a tortoise with a broken leg. However I will do my best, just got to get there first. The TORTOISE will not be defeated!”
Ellen's journey to the start line involved three trains to Windsor and Eaton Riverside, then a long walk to the Long Walk. But her real journey to improved confidence and stamina was mirrored by the efforts of all the competitors and epitomised by the indomitable spirit of the official starter, five-time Olympian Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers), who could not resist joining the race and working through the field to finish seventh.
The speedy hares at the front were W45 Dawn Godwin (Windle Valley Runners, 41:05), Sarah Holmes (Reading AC, 42:16) and W35 Bithja Jones (Reading Roadrunners, 42:29).
Also claiming the scalp of the 2014 European 10,000m champion were Laura Newton (W40, 44:12), Claire Marks (W50 Reading Roadrunners, 44:49) and Michaela Mayor (Hillingdon AC, 44:50). Nearly 350 women broke the 60-minute barrier on an undulating and testing course.
All finishers received a commemorative medal and souvenir T-shirt and the attention to detail included toilets on the course; children's entertainment; an aerobic warm-up; race pacers and an inspirational post race seminar with Jo Pavey.