Conditions in Gnoll Park for the second West Glamorgan league fixture were perfect. I hadn’t expected to run since Alex had a rubgy game, but his misfortune in fracturing a finger in training (all better now, thankfully) gave me a chance to compete.
At Gnoll the women and men race different distances, the men running two long loops of the estate to the women’s one. Some women may feel slighted by this discrepancy but it does make for some fun on the course for spectators and runners alike. A staggered start means there’s plenty of action and overtaking.
When I arrived to collect my number the estate was buzzing. I found out afterwards that 366 athletes completed the course, a league record: I’m proud to have been part of that.
Confident in my form and lifted by the occasion, I set out fast. A tight loop took us back to the start, where we got a rousing cheer from the women who were awaiting their own start, before heading out on the first long loop. The course is truly mixed terrain. What was meadow became gravel and now we were heading up through woodland. Watch out for roots and rocks! There’s a long level section through some felled forestry, then a long downhill before another grassy climb to complete the circuit. My brother Dan had turned up to support after all — there he was with Schnorbie!
Gareth Poston pulled alongside me. He’s a running rival who proved too strong at Port Talbot, but beatable at Llanmadoc. Today, he opened a gap at the beginning of the second lap. I did my best to keep him in sight; to use him to keep me ahead of my chasers.
Up through the woods, back over the stream. Now I was passing the tail of the women’s race, overtaking, concentrating on holding my line and not clattering into anyone. I didn’t look behind me but could hear spectators cheering for Royston Whitehouse, a V50 rival who could surely strike if I slowed up. I pushed hard up the final climb and held on to the line. I came in first V50, just 3 seconds ahead of Royston Whitehouse, and 12th overall with a time of 35:07.