First thing to say about the 11K Hill Run, is that it's hard. Really hard. Almost entirely uphill, most of that steep, entirely on rocky trails in the Cypriot heat. And a final steep climb into the village for the final kilometre felt especially cruel.
Last time I ran the Challenge, the 11K was by far my least favourite of the four, so I was dreading it this week in my unfit state. In 2009 I had simply never ran a race like it - it was a total culture shock. I went about it all the wrong way - terrified that I'd be last and alone, tricked by a flat first kilometre, wondering how hard it could be anyway. So I panicked and went off too fast, proudly insisted on running all the hills when walking would probably have been quicker and then ended up defeated and walking from 8K.
This year, I decided to stay cool and calm and take it at a pace I knew I could sustain (and hope that didn't mean I'd come last). To walk the uphills and run the flats. To chill out and enjoy the view.
And you know what, I actually enjoyed it. Or maybe that's just the endorphins playing tricks on me. There were more flat sections than I remembered - and I had enough energy to take advantage of them. I knew that it'd all be over by lunchtime - and to soak up the views of rocky gorges, sprawling farmland and the sparkling sea because this might be the last chance I got to run the race.
And at the top, I found my favourite finish of all four races - a tiny old village square at the very top of the hill, crowded by the gantry, dj and noisy crowds and presided over by an ancient, bemused Orthodox priest. Absolutely worth the uphill slog to reach it.
Pace: 15:22/mile (look, it was REALLY steep)