All primed and charged for 10K racing action, I went to the Phoenix Park in Dublin this morning for the Aware Christmas Run.
But I left the Park without running a step.
It was a glorious morning; the pale winter sun turned the clear sky a shade of Mediterranean sea-blue. But down at ground level, conditions on the roads in the Park were icy – even strolling up to the start area at the Furze Road I had to leave the path and walk on the crunchy, frozen grass.
At that stage, half an hour before the start, I was fairly sure that there would be no running.
However, at the start area the race was still due to go ahead. The organisers announced that the 10K, the first of the morning’s two races, was being delayed by 30 minutes to see if the roads would thaw a little in the rising winter sun. Runners were also asked to abandon all thoughts of PBs and running fast – one pre-race instruction was: “Go slow, go slow, go slow!”
I didn’t fancy trading my 10K race for a paranoid shuffle over slippery roads. I was especially mindful of the shaded second kilometre where the sun would not have reached through to the ice, and the downhill third kilometre along the Glen Road.
And so, with a heavy heart but also the satisfying feeling that I was doing the right thing, I decided not to take part. Quite simply, I didn’t want to risk slipping and injuring myself, and even if I had run I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy myself.
Staying around to watch everyone else set off from the start would have been almost as painful for me as falling on ice. So I decided to leave the Park – with luck, before I could hear the race starting.
According to replies on this Boards.ie athletics forum thread, conditions improved during the delay and the race passed off without problems. But I don’t regret not running in it this morning – the fear of slipping on glassy roads or an unseen patch of ice would have stopped me from relaxing and enjoying the race.
I should say that the organisers did a good job this morning of keeping everyone informed of the conditions and the risks. This means that I could take an informed decision on whether or not to run – and the same goes for those who eventually took part.
Hopefully the Aware Christmas Run will return in 2015 and I’ll get another chance to run in it.