Iron, your progress is coming on loads, taking stacks off your finish position race by race! Good to see you today, along with a whole host of friendly faces. Makes up for a truly crap weekend, and I don't just mean the footy....can't get too upset about what you can't change after all.
Had told Phil I wasn't doing this one, in good faith, but I'd pencilled it and all the XC fixtures into my schedule for Moraghan to judge on, with me putting it was "very hilly" on there. And it took me 3 days of ruined legs 2 years ago to get over! So I presumed I wouldn't be allowed
However, I got the go ahead, and thought, oh heck, it's a really tough course, 3 big hills, and loads of other ups and downs. One saving grace was that it wasn't wet meaning half the course wasn't a squelch fest.
Got there and saw the usual Datchet gang, and their usual disclaimer that they "didn't have their full team out", which is like pointing out day follows night!
Jock Itch from fetch was there, bizarrely wearing normal trainers. He got away with conditions just about, but more on that later.
Massive cavalry charge at the start for about 3/4miles gradual downhill start. One of my club mates led for a really mental 400metres before falling back as quick as you've ever seen anyone do so. Then you turn right and find a very steep grassy bank to scale, which you get to the top of, and find it has another 400metres up into the woods.
You feel quite bad then, and it's about 1.2miles in, with a couple of other little ups, where you find yourself and those ahead very close in.
It then settles and spreads out, with a nice down, which brings you to a very steep and long section, starting with hard trail, and ending with some squelchy mud patches.
Myself and one of Phil's boys were going up so slowly I wondered if we were in the bottom few runners. He surprised me by stopping to a walk, and I carried on at a furious 9min a mile pace
Got to the top eventually, and this is a nice spell, a good chunk on decent ish woody route, awaiting one of the steepest descents in any race I've done. Frankie popped up to take my photo (which i'll post at the end), and buoyed by this I monstered by some Reading chap downhill.
Jock Itch was taking it pretty easily down the sheer fall, funnily enough! Even those of us with good grip were. You then look and see the finish, but the bums make you go up another steep hill, although I tend to find this one comfortable these days. In 06 I walked a bit.
Into the woods, and we all know it's all about jostling for position until the steep downhill grassy bank that we'd trawled up about 20mins ago.
Sitting about 2metres behind Jock for half a mile, he took one step out of place into a muddy patch and I just steamed past, knowing that was it, and it'd take a colossal effort to match the downhill speed.
Good 400metres or so down the grassy bank, then you panic a bit as you turn left, and face an inclining last 400metres or so on hard ground, with not much left
The chap I'd taken at the last min at the previous one was a few secs ahead, but I'll be honest and say I was happy enough to hold Jocky off here. Over the line, 10th place, and top 10 here is a decent result. Noone above was someone I'd be too disappointed to lose to, and that's all you can ask.
Saw Phil, and about 15 others post race, to enjoy a real good race day experience.