ES - for what its worth I think that doing more races is beneficial for a number of reasons.
1) It brings you back to reality. When training, it is easy to get overconfident, think you are running well, base everything on garmin splits, delude yourself that you are faster than you think etc.. However you don't get a true picture of how well you are running until you run on an accurate course against your peers and then you come down to earth with a bump!
2) It teaches you to hurt!. If you only race twice a year you forget how painful those last few miles are. If you race often you experience that feeling more often, you learn how to cope with it, you learn how to push yourself through it etc..You just become mentally stronger. That is why I think cross country is so valuable, it is a miserable experience at the time but it makes you mentally strong.
3) Its fun! - The whole point of running for me is for the whole race experience, the nerves, the banter, the pain, the relief at the end, the p*ss taking etc (HL doesn't get this bit, but he has probably never run a race in his life, or if he did he probably wore a mask or entered with someone else's number, or didn't even enter, or just pretended he ran). Its like a moth being drawn to a flame, the actual race hurts and I vow never to enter another during the race but a couple of days later I'm looking for my next one.
ES - looking forward to kicking your ass at a local fell race.
My advice would be to do more races and stress less about where you come. What's the point of doing all that training only to race 2 or 3 times a year?
We'll done all Manchester runners from a sunny Switzerland. Some great times there in what sound like tricky conditions. Don't know why you bother with Garmins, they always mess up. Far better to take splits at each mile marker with a good old fashioned stop watch. Hard luck BT, looks like you're just not built for marathons.