I hadn't raced at all between Mickleden and the Skyline, in fact, my training had been somewhat stymied by a 3 week trip to Tasmania. Although it was very cool indeed, and a fantastic laugh, I didn't actually get much running or training in while there. Once back in the UK, it was quite evident that I am not a natural runner as I got nailed on what should have been an easy run with a friend... more on that on another blog.
|Me and Ben Naylor at the top of Ringing Roger|
My first aim was to be in the top 10 out of the field, not get held back on the climb, and just see how the rest of the race went.
The weather was fantastic, so normal AL racekit was needed, as opposed to the significantly greater list on a bad year - so the race weight wasn't all that bad. As I hoped, I was in the first 10 out of the gate, and didn't get held back on the climb. Got overtaken by a lot of people, mind, including Chris Webb pretty soon after the first hairpin, but I just plodded on.
Across the tops I found myself catching up with the guys in front, and retook a number of places on the technical section and was with Chris and Jez as we went to Hope Cross. The new route now takes us down the Hope Wakes route, and we were told to stick to the paths, which we duely did. Other racers, it seems were not given that instruction and bashed through the woods on a direct line, cutting over fences... not entirely cool, and I wonder if more specific guidance may be given next year.
On the climb up to Win Hill my legs decided to say "nope" and I lost a number of places. My ascending is *still* the weakest part of my race, even 5 years after starting to race. Maybe I've got stronger at everything, and yet climbing is lagging behind by the same amount?
On the descent I grabbed a place from Ben Naylor and managed to stay ahead of him on the ascent of Lose Hill. About 3-4 of us were exchanging places and good humoured banter up the hill and across the ridge to Mam tor, but once past the checkpoint, my legs ended up really going "definitely nope" and I lost touch with them as we headed over Lord's seat.
Just before the new checkpoint at the bottom of the hill to Brown Knoll, Lynne was there with a drink, which I was grateful for, and then started the long flagged climb to the Knoll. Those slabs are great, in terms of not wading through bog, but horrendous in that they just keep going. Especially when you have runners breathing down your neck.
A couple of guys overtook me along the Southern edge of Kinder, and I could feel a blister coming on inbetween my toes (grit in socks?) and there was another one waiting to overtake me, who didn't quite have the speed over the slightly more technical terrain towards the end. I then totally lost him on the descent and came in a good minute in front of the next finisher.
20th overall, and 3:25. Not bad, really, but with some serious work to do on my climbing.