I am really pleased I had another go at this race but less pleased with my time (1hr 18mins) being a minute slower than last year but equal to my run in 2009. This year there appeared to be more runners than last year, also they were slightly older and perhaps more my age group (he says poised to become a super-vet soon!).
Conditions were perfect: cloud, mild but dry.
Parking the car at Tring Cricket Club was straightforward, as was registering, though I did feel a tad surprised at the £2 surcharge for on-the-day registration. I jogged around the field a couple of times; other runners were doing the same but only a handful. Others were stretching and chatting, plus the usual pre-race wee for many.
Then a jog or stroll over to the start, which is about 10 minutes away. I remember eyeing up the competition; some clearly super fit and often wearing their running club tee shirt or vest. There seems to be a running club in most Hertfordshire towns but also there were representations from Dunstable Running Club and I think I spotted some from a Northampton club too. Others were setting their GPS watches and EVERYONE seemed to be talking to someone EXCEPT me. Who cares, the horn sounded, the talking stopped and we were off. Well, we all started to shuffle a few yards while the front Whiz Kids sped off. All I could hear around me was the sound of feet running and the footsteps were all blending into each other. Gradually huffing and puffing sounds grew but not from me; I realised I was near the back of the field amongst runners who were quickly getting out of breath. The field slowly thinned out and we were all jockeying for position which involved me nipping ahead a bit. The race passed through a farm yard, over a railway line and over the Grand Union Canal, a road and then the start of the first climb started.
Now if you're a regular reader you'll know I quite like running up hills and I reckon I'm reasonable at it. Not so for some around me and in front with a bottle-neck delay held me up as running up hill was in single file as the trail was so narrow in places.
It didn't stop someone in a red vest, hunky and hairy trying to pull in front of me and then you nearly bashed me in my face with your elbow. If that's you - please be more aware of others around you - you probably know who you are! Some runners turned into walkers for some of the uphill bits causing another bottleneck. I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of some ramblers stepping to one side in allowing us runners to pass by. I heard a woman behind me say "you didn't expect this, did you?" which was just spot on! Excellent.
Getting up to the Bridgwater monument was nice as I knew that there was a fast bit to come with a wide trail through the woods. Eventually emerged from the woods over towards Ivinghoe Beacon before turning left, and down hill and onto what I assume is part of the long distance footpath. Another drink station ahead at the bottom of a short - but very steep hill - and the end was almost in sight.
I enjoyed chasing someone through the woodland stretch with all kinds of tree roots and stumps which needed attention. Down then onto the flat and the straight lane back towards Tring. I checked my watch and knew I was going to need to increase my speed to stand a chance of improving my time. I managed to remember that the finish is not where the starting line is but back at the cricket club (about half a mile further on). It was a real joy sprinting up to the finishing line and into the funnel.
I checked my watch and realised I was too slow. Although it was a small affair, I thought all the volunteers did a splendid job in handing out the usual goodies. Below, a few snaps after the race...
|post race stretch!|