On Sunday 10th August I took part in the Salisbury 54321. After many weeks of glorious sunshine and heat, the weather decided to kick off the event with a downpour.
The Salisbury 54321 is a selection of distances for both walkers and runners who want to take part. The shortest run is 10k and the longest is 50k, meaning there is something for everyone. I didn’t really know the course before I started and, unusually, just turned up on the day to wait and find out what was in store.
Dan started the 50k at 9am, meaning I had an hour and a half until my 21k start time of 10:30am. The weather had been pretty good all week so I wore my shorts, Brooks Glycerin 11 and WADAC vest. I decided against taking water as there were stops every 5k or so; instead I carried a nakd bar and a SIS gel.
My race number was missing at registration so I had to hang about for a new one to be created, other than that it was a pretty simple registration process and all the helpers were super cheery. We are also able to park right by the start/finish which was handy when it kept raining!
Whilst waiting for the race to start, I met a woman called Karen who was running her first ever race. She was a bit nervous but I saw her again at the end and she looked pretty pleased with herself.
The first 1km was nice and easy, running with the group but then as soon as the 2km mark came there was a stretch of single track, up a muddy hill so the pace slowed considerably as people walked/slid their way along the track. As soon as this area passed there was a lovely bit of downhill, past some houses that gave the opportunity to pick up the pace again.
The course was a lot hillier than I had anticipated, I was expecting more road running than trail along the course. The scenery was lovely and you get the opportunity to run through private land that isn’t usually open to the public.
As part of the 21k you pass some of the Clarendon Way and get to view the lovely copse and woods near Laverstock. At around 10k there is a fairly long, gentle increase of a hill that runs alongside a main road. Just as you think you are nearing the top, it turns off to the left onto a dirt path where the gradient increases sharply. I attempted to run most of the hills but on occasion, it was better to stop and walk it.
The start and first half of the race was very well signposted but just before we got to the city centre, the signage stopped and it got a bit confusing where to to go. At this point, I was with a group of four others, one who had raced it before. We had to rely on the general public pointing us in the correct direction past the cathedral until the signs picked up again.
Towards the end of the race, there was a marker to let us know we had 1km left to go however, I think this was a little inaccurate as the total distance was 13.4 miles and not the 13.1 miles advertised. As the course was more challenging then I had expected the final 3 miles felt very hard. I was also suffering from a stitch/cramping since mile 9 so I was unable to push it hard by this point.
Overall, the course was tough but good fun. There were a good mix of people running from club runners to total newbies, including a familiar face – Steve Way. Due to the weather still being warm (even though it was wet) I got quite thirsty on the first half so next year, I will probably take my own drink.
The signage could be improved a little more for those new to the course but apart from that, it was well organised and the route was gorgeous.
I’ll consider the 30k for next year.