Sky Bet League 2
Mansfield Town 1-1 Oxford United
One Call Stadium
Attendance: 3112 (away support 547)
STAG OF HERTS enjoyed a double-header of sport in Mansfield at the weekend.
Saturday brought an overdue return to Field Mill (aka One Call Stadium) where Mansfield Town hosted Oxford United.
The following day, the town hosted a running event for the first time since 2011, with around 600 runners taking part in the inaugural Reach Mansfield 10k on a hot and sunny Sunday morning.
My review of the football, published on Real Footy Talk, is here.
In a deviation from the usual theme of this blog, I'll also share my thoughts on the 10k...
"You're joking!", was my immediate reaction when I looked at my watch with 200 metres to go. I suddenly realised that I was about to complete a 10k race in under 42 minutes for the first time.
But after I had crossed the finish line in a chip time which would later be confirmed as 41:46, I knew that just didn't feel right. I had had to work hard in the punishingly hot sun and stiff crosswind. The whole race had felt like quite a struggle. Had we really run a full 10 kilometres?
Perhaps reflecting my recent personal battles to think positively, I had spent much of the run mulling over all the things I had done wrong this morning.
Foolishly, I had forgotten to bring a pre-race banana, so had eaten my protein bar before, rather than after, running on this occasion.
Had I drunk enough water? Well, I probably had, but the conditions were bound to leave me feeling dehydrated anyway.
For once, I had opted to run a race not in my usual plain white shirt, but in the royal blue shirt from the Olympic Park 'Back to the Stadium' run of 2013, then felt the sun burning through the darker colour for much of the morning.
I would have been happy to have completed the two laps of the town in around 45 minutes under the circumstances. But sub-42?!
Still, my GPS says I covered 9.62 kilometres, and I'm sure it didn't kick in until after the start. I hadn't even bothered to set it.
Nor had I glanced at my watch too often, the absence of kilometre markers along the route preventing me from obsessing too much over my rate of progress. I did note a time of 20:52 when I reached the top of Midworth Street first time.
Whatever doubts I, and several other runners, may have about the distance, the records show that I completed the Mansfield 10k in a time of 41 minutes 46 seconds. No-one can take that away from me.
So it was a proud morning for my home town, which was hosting a running event for the first time since 2011. Personally, I'm glad to have been part of it, and hope it's been a big success.
If anyone's asking, I have a few thoughts on how it could be improved:
* Number/chip collection: the worryingly long queue in Titchfield Park suggested we were heading for a much delayed start. Credit to those working hard in the pavilion for keeping the delay to only 20 minutes. If it's too much of an overhead to post numbers out in advance, (and I can understand if it is for this new event), could numbers be made available for collection in town a few days ahead of race day? This might help enough locally-based runners to ease the pressure on the day.
* The eight portaloos in the park could be better advertised/signposted. I only discovered them in the nick of time after a late announcement over the tannoy.
* As above, did we really run a full 10k course?
* The finishing zone seemed a bit disorganised. It would have been too easy for runners to miss out on some of their post-race goodies. Perhaps there could be more of a funnel after the finish line, where we sequentially collect a medal, bottle, goodie bag and fruit.
Now I'm looking forward to next year already.