“So unless the weather picks up a lot I’m probably not going to spectate. Enjoy the rain!” Andy emailed, despite the fact Hannah, his wife, would be running.
Yet again the event defied the forecast. Heavy showers had blown themselves out during the day. The sun shone. Tyntesfield’s stone work gleamed. The lawns sparkled.
After a couple of laps of the lower meadow and formal gardens the race leaders had a substantial gap. From here, the course plays hide-and-seek through woods and rough pasture, and I wouldn’t be seeing them until the finish. I wouldn’t be looking back either, I’d be playing my part in a racing allegiance of four:
- the tall veteran from Weston AC
- Bristol and West, wearing tights
- a North Somerset runner
- me, the Southville second-claimer
Bristol and West led us through the woods, ducking, skipping, dodging and sliding. A wrong turn was quickly corrected. He made an error trying to squeeze between gate and fence, failing to spot the barbed wire. That hurt! Now we skirted the furrowed side of a planted field.
Weston charged into the downhill only to fall heavily on the wet mud. He was OK, he was up again. I dropped to the back of the group and chose my route carefully. North Somerset had built a clear lead.
After a short set of steps the course returns to a tarmaced road for the final section. There’s an uphill, neither steep nor extended, but brutal after 6 miles of multi-terrain racing. I caught and passed Bristol and West and Weston.
I could see the finish line. Andy was there, with Sam and James. Giles with his boys too. They were cheering me on! I had better support but Bristol and West had a better sprint. He stormed past me to take 9th in the race.
I came 10th overall with a time of 40:34, a little slower than last year. I was second veteran (behind Keiron Summers) and first MV50.
Special mention to Harry Allen, a young runner who has been training with Southville — let’s hope he signs up! — and who won the race in a time of 37:34, in the face of some very strong competition.
Thanks to Rich Kenington, Dermot McCann and Phil Murray for the photographs