Event: Great Hampden & Whiteleaf, Chiltern Hills

After missing the Wendover event two weeks ago I was determined to make this, last Sunday, only a few miles from the former. Great Hampden has a reputation for being “green” (ie. lots of undergrowth) and with the event taking place in June, I was expecting something physical. The longer courses took the runners through a very hard, physical section, before running the rest of the race through flat, relatively level forest. Not realising this myself, I was exhausted within 20 minutes, but was able to keep going well in the latter stages, to end up with a not-too-embarrasing time.

Oxford UOC were out in force (as it was the Town vs Gown event) and also the Great Britain Women’s Squad turned up. I don’t think the organisers were expecting this, but it made for some excellent times to aim for on the Brown and Blue courses. I ran Blue myself, in retrospect I could have run Brown, as the extra 3km was in the very flat section and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it much.

Great Hampden

I had one really big mistake, on the third leg (see extract.) Instead of dropping down the steep, green valley (like most other people) or climbing up and over, I unwisely tried to contour round the steep slopes. This proved to be painful and exhausting, and slow going, and I bashed my head on a hidden branch stump, half-way along. This was pretty concerning (it was bleeding a lot) and I took time out to stem the flow. After I recovered from that though it was relatively plain sailing. I do now however have a nice “Harry Potter” gash on my forehead and must have looked a state on the train back!

Result: 73:49 for 6.5km, 125m climb (11.2 mins/km.) The slow mins/km was entirely due to the disasterous leg expained above. Despite this I finished well near the top of the results list, and I’m quite pleased about this.

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