Race 5 in the summer series, on the longest day, was (let’s hope!) the hottest of the summer’s races, at 28 degrees. A ‘warm-up’ was still necessary, but left us dry-throated and sweating before the race had even begun. After the first few hundred yards on steadily rising tarmac, we entered the woods, which although shady deprived us of any movement of air. The slope gradually increased, with spells of running followed by some walking, over the loose, dry surface which I mentally assessed as likely to mean a tricky return downhill. At the top it levelled off a bit before we passed through a kissing gate onto the open hill. There was then a steep run down the edge of the wood on loose stones and tree roots, before possibly the steepest climb of the series, straight up over dry, slippery short grass. Halfway up I spotted Gary just a yard or two behind, a very bad sign for me, with the downhill to come. From the summit it was a pleasant run down to the kissing gate and the shale path through the woods. Once in the woods though my fears were confirmed with the sight of two runners who had come a cropper, leading me to take extra care. With still no Gary on my heels as I came out of the wood, I felt able to relax a little over the last few hundred yards of road to the finish. One more downhill slope though, and he’d have caught me. At the finish the first thought was for water; the first batch having been drunk there was a short wait for a fresh supply, which when it arrived was beautifully cool. Gary and I were the two oldest, with Tom in 3rd place in the MV65s.
The heat, and the pain, can be seen on Tom’s and my faces! Gary looks untroubled.