After the wintry weather of the last few days, most of us had been expecting a tough cross-country course on snow and ice, but the thaw on Saturday morning had left Bedewell looking distinctly green. However I started to have some misgivings when we reached the area for club tents and it was distinctly boggy. We found a relatively dry area and started to unpack but Saltwell Harriers got in first and we ended up on a slightly soggier patch next door, that is when we eventually got the tent up – boy scouts/girl guides we were not! We should probbaly forego intervals one Wednesday for tent training!
The course is not one of the more challenging Harrier League courses, with just one hill which you run up in two stages. At the top of the hill there is a narrow path along the ridge which makes overtaking difficult, especially on the first lap when the course is still quite crowded. Credit to the course planners for managing to keep it interesting with a mix of sections through trees, some longish straights and a few twists and turns.
The ladies ran first and, as I watched them come down the hill on the first lap, there was a reasonable close grouping of Julie, Nina and Michelle with Mary not too far behind and Elaine looking fairly comfortable. They didn’t look quite so comfortable on the 2nd lap, except for Michelle who never looks any different! The whole team seemed to finish with smiles on their faces, with Marie decalring “that was good!” and Julie dismissing my view that it was muddy declaring it to be “mud you could run over”.
So to the men’s race. Aware that I had struggled to even complete a parkrun the week before due to a bad cold, as I lined up with Matthew I said that I would take the first lap steady and then see how it went. Matthew said his plan was similar – to tuck in the middle of the pack for the first lap and then go backwards! The numbers competing this season meant that the paths were fairly crowded for the first half a lap or so, but I’d settled into a steady pace and could see Matthew pulling ever so gradually away from me. The first lap passed without incident but I couldn’t agree with Julie’s verdict on the mud – there were a few sections that felt distinctly as though I was running through treacle and it got worse with each lap. As usual, the medium and fast pack lads started piling past on the 2nd lap. Jonathan was one of them, overtaking me near the end of the ridge just before the downhill section. He looked fairly strong and was soon out of sight. The only other Claremonter that I was aware of was Lukas. I caught a glimpse of him not too far behind me as I went around one of the very muddy bends. As I felt that I was slowing down, I was expecting him to catch me at any moment but it didn’t happen. We all got around without incident which was the good news as I saw a couple of fallers and one guy who’d lost a shoe.
Looking at my watch after the race confirmed my feeling that I started steady and got steadily slower, and the state of my kit and our bath confirmed my view that much of the course was a mudheap. I feel sorry for the local residents of Monckton as the run completely wrecks the park. I forget who, but one of the girls remarked that she now knew what Glastonbury must be like. Spot on!