This should have been an easy event to get to – 25 minutes on the train. But the line was closed, and it took 90 minutes by bus in the end. It was snowing at Hatfield, and extremely cold, but I’m glad I made the effort, because this is a bit of a classic area. I often check out the areas on the OS map before going, and this one really looked a bit dull. But the OS map doesn’t tell the story at all. This is a fast area – think New Forest fast. At this time of the year, vegetation was pleasantly light, the main obstacle being large, impenetrable areas of rhodedendrons – thankfully indicated on the map. As long as you avoided these like the plague, you could get around pretty fast. And I did – one of my fastest runs for a long time, and I finished pleasantly high up the results board. Maybe I was going fast because it was so cold and stopping, in the zero-insulation running layer, would have been a Really Bad Idea. I ran Brown, an initially worrying 8.7km (especially on an empty stomach) but in the end it only felt like 7km.
My time was 66:23 for the 8.7km course with 125m of climbing – a par speed of 7.6km – matching the season’s best, although it was an exceptionally flat area. The winner did 50:45. On current form with a flawless run, I estimate I would have done it in about 60-61 minutes.
I made fewer mistakes than I normally do. The only significant one was going from 16-17 (not shown at this time.) I headed out of 16 45 degrees in the wrong direction, but was somewhat aware of this. I switched off mentally, pleased with my run thus far, and somehow missed a big track after 150m, running right over it and hitting a later track 350m away! I almost made a big mistake assuming the second was the first, but for once I trusted the compass, wised up and retreated. The only other mistake was leg 20-21, where I again came off at 45 degrees, and went hurtling down towards a dead end. Only around 2 minutes was wasted on each mistake though – unlike the 5 minute stinkers I’ve been making recently at other events.
Special thanks to the planner for planning an interesting course, which used the area to its best and provided an interesting route to follow and quite a few either-or legs – and also the organisers for letting me run late.
Oddly, there was a second map to be picked up halfway around the course. In this age of electronic timing, surely it wolud have been better to have the second map printed on the back of the first?