I found two lessons reinforced during this race: 1) Don’t trust a marshal who says ‘you’re nearly there’, or ‘it’s all downhill from here’, or even ‘bear left at the flag, you can’t miss it’, and 2) If a flagstoned path leads into a bog and out again, there isn’t necessarily firm footing under the surface.
And yet, it was a lovely day, blue sky, hardly a breath of wind but not too warm (at the start). Tom and Neil both had anti-midge spray, which came in handy near the registration table, but which may have had a retardant effect on their running? From the start, with a deceptively easy downhill run to the river’s edge, I could see Stacey and Nigel making good speed up front, while Neil, Sam, Tom and I paced ourselves more conservatively. The stoned footpath (still recovering from over-indulging on Saturday night?) gradually rose, in undulations, which began to string out the runners. As it got steeper I felt justified in walking a bit, where I thought walking was as fast as running, but Sam knew differently and shot past me, still running. Once on top the climb was more gradual, and the path turned into a flag-stoned way between marsh grasses and through bogs. It was here that I miscalculated and found my left leg plunged mid-thigh into a murky bog, with both arms and part of my face covered in gooey particles. Sam, by now behind me, must have gained by my experience! Soon we left the track and headed up to the summit (450m of climb) over tufty grass and heather. Encouraged by the marshal at the top (‘downhill all the way’), we made our way over uneven terrain down to a gateway, more heath and another marshal who instructed us to bear left at the flag. Following a Maldwyn runner in front, I was led astray (as were Sam and Neil behind) making heavy weather across rough moorland until we spotted another marshal to our right. From there it was all (stony) tracks back down to the river, with undulations, and the final run in through the forest, where the shade was pleasantly welcome.
The race was well won by Stacey, in just under the hour (59.58), who was able to pull away from his nearest challenger and win by a comfortable margin. Nigel again ran well, being 1st V40, 9th overall in 69.06. I was 24th (81.22), 1st V70, with Sam (1st F40) just behind, in 82.18. Neil found it tough (not as tough as the repelled midges?), crossing the line in 88.01, with Tom, also midge-free, completing his 64th race of the year in 90.33.