After not being able to make it to last weekend’s Petersfield event due to a lack of trains running, this was my first event of the season. Having had a series of good M21S runs at the Scottish 6 day, I was tempted to pick a similar length of course, but as (a) this is Essex and (b) I should be capable of running more than 6km, I went for the Brown course – 9.3km with 120m of climb. The area was pretty flat, the middle part of the course was at on the same Thorndon North map that was my final race last season, and the running was fast and easy – very different to Scotland.
After a slow start (copying 22 controls down onto two maps) I made a mistake at the second control – a technical one, one of the few on the race, by misjudging distances on the map – only a 1 minute mistake though. 3-7 were simple – 4-7 in particular were real cross-country runner’s legs and not interesting at all. After entering the second map after number 8, I encountered a load of horseriders on the tracks – a bit of a hazard as you had to stop really for them to pass. I managed to come across the same pair of horses/riders about four times, going from control to control. The condition of Thorndon North was not too bad, considering it was September, but it was still a good idea to avoid any rough patches due to all the vegetation. I made a silly mistake at 12, again not judging the distance and not checking the compass, I beared 90 off about 100m before the control – wasting around 2 minutes. For No. 13 I was being very lazy and entered the immediate area around the control very slowly, wasting another minute. The forest was actually pretty dark here – for a white area – mainly due to the very grey skies that were keeping the Aussies away from the cricket too. 14-15 was rather pleasant, and here I caught up another Brown course runner, he was just slower than me but it was difficult to overtake him as I tried to go “alternative” routes to lose him, that nevertheless wasted a few seconds. After getting delayed by horses (again!) I fainlly caught up when he made a mistake at 19, and after that the only thing remaining was… an uphill finish! I hate uphill finishes, planner, what were you thinking! Anyway, it was a nice run around and the fact that the technical legs on a not very technical area, showed how out of fitness I was after six weeks off. And the following day (and today!) my legs really ached from the run – for only 9.3km, I have lost a lot of fitness.
Result (9.3km/120m climb):
Winner: 65:32 (7.0 mins/km)
Me: 73:34 (7.9 mins/km)
Position: 9th out of 21 runners, 20 finishers.
Next Sunday I am hoping to make it to the first regional event of the season for me, at Hatfield Forest, just north of London. Always nice living in central London – it’s dead easy to get anywhere from here.