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Jason Richards racing

28 March, 2010

Wakefield Hospice 10k race

By Jason Richards

I have been racing the Wakefield Hospice 10k since 2002 and on no two occasions has the course been the same. However, no matter how they alter the course and adjust the route around Wakefield, it is always one of the hardest, most demanding races on the circuit. This year was no exception with the 10k course taking an out and back loop on Dewsbury Road.

Since our twins were born in November 2007 I have been unable to dedicate myself to training and racing in the same way as I had done leading up to the World Championships earlier that year. I’ve raced a few times and had some great results but I have never managed any consistency with my training. However, in the month leading up to the race I made a conscious decision to start back on the road to fitness and created opportunities to train at least twice a week. This still didn’t compare to the six days a week I had trained previously but as the days passed I could feel my endurance and pushing technique returning. Well, except for one freezing cold evening in the dark when my only chance to train was after the twins had gone to bed. Armed with bike lights and several layers of warm clothing I left the house at 8:20 pm telling my wife to come and look for me if I was not back by nine.

The build up to the race was quite rushed and I had meant to change the foam padding in my gloves prior to the start. I had removed the tried and tested foam and replaced it with d3o, an intelligent shock-absorbing material that I had only just built in to my gloves and had not yet tested. In the rush to get warmed up I didn’t get the chance to rebuild the gloves so the d3o had its baptism of fire under full race conditions. The start of the race was then delayed so Steve and I sat patiently waiting for the go ahead.

The outbound leg of the event involved a 5k climb away from Wakefield which would have been demanding whatever the conditions. However, the unrelenting headwind made this the most gruelling, and slowest, 5k I have ever completed in a race.

Numbers in wheelchair racing have been dwindling over the last few years and so it was once again a little disappointing to have only three men in the field.

The race started on the sounding of a megaphone which all three of us interpreted very differently. I made a great start as the device gave out a low-pitched whine but the other racers held off, not sure if this was the signal to start. It was, and so I eased off to allow us to collect together and not gain an unfair advantage.

As we hit the headwind and the hills Steve Williamson and I were out in front leaving Ed trailing behind. At 1k the gradient increased and my momentum carried me from the wheel of Steve to the front. I noticed a gap open up as I climbed and tried to maintain a rhythm in the blustery conditions. Steve usually climbs well once we get on the steep hills so I knew he’d be breathing down my neck all the way. Where I’m always strong is on the fast flat and downhill sections where I can maintain great top end speed. I knew if I could make it to the 5k turning point at the top of the hill in first place then I would be in pole position for the fast run home to the finish. I was climbing strongly and the trial d3o foam in my gloves was working well, soaking up the impact and preventing damage to my fingers, whilst allowing me good power transfer and feel on the push rims.

At the turn-around Steve appeared to have clawed back some of my lead but as the tailwind whisked me up and launched my front wheel back down the hill in the direction of the finish the relative gap again grew and I knew if I could maximise my advantage at this stage then a victory was looking good.

I saw 35 mph on my speedometer as I tore down the hill and sucked in lung after lung of air to replace the oxygen debt I had run up during the long climb to the 5k marker. My arms and shoulders relaxed as I freewheeled at high speed and I was able to clear the large volumes of lactic acid from my muscles.