Posted: 10/01/2017 at 18:49
So I owe you a report from the Berkshire County Champs on Saturday, which I didn't get around to writing at the time.
Managed to get a full team out for this one for the first time in ages, and getting a full team basically guarantees medals, so that was a good start. On a personal level, the aim was clearly to retain my "masters" county title, get back in the Berkshire team for the Inter Counties, and improve on my 7th from last year,
It was a bit of a scramble from the start line, and I found myself back in about 12th, but some optimistic fast starters dropped away. After one of the four laps, four had separated themselves out a bit, leaving a following group of five (one of whom was a junior and not therefore doing the full distance). Therefore, qualification in the top 9 looked assured.
Used the second lap to gauge where I was stronger vs the others (unsurprisingly the flat, firm bits) so I knew where to push on the later laps. At some point during lap 3 one of the group fell back a bit and subsequently DNFed, so barring disaster, top 7 and first vet was in the bag. On the final lap, another of the group drifted back, leaving it a straight battle with me and an eager youngster for 5th. I knew getting involved in a sprint finish with a sprightly young fellow would end badly for me, so I tried to get a gap. Succeeded in pulling out about 10-15 metres, but it was not enough, as he came past again and left me back in 6th.
Final time 40:42, averaging 5:42 pace on a course that was pretty muddy in places. That's not too bad, but I would have expected to have been closer to the people in 3rd and 4th (3rd has been about 30s ahead in the Hampshire League, but had a good 90s on me this time). Nevertheless, safely qualified and another county masters gold.
The day ended on something of a downer, as I was informed that we had not in fact actually managed to get any team silverware, because three of our team were vets, who bizarrely could not count for the senior team, despite running exactly the same race. This obscure rule meant that only one club fielded an actual team. Had vets counted, we would have been equal first. I cannot for the life of me think of any good reason for this rule to exist, and all it does is result in the ridiculous situation of only one full team actually being present as opposed to three or four, which surely cannot be any good for the credibility of the race. Madness.