“You lace is undone James” shouted Steven.
I looked down at my right foot – the b**tard was right. And of course stopping to tie it allowed him nip right by me on the heathery trod up Mount Shade.
As luck would have it Steven had a similar shoe mix up about 1km later (a long climb so it was) and I was able to regain my place, cheerfully commenting ‘That’s karma Steven!” as I passed by. No sooner had the words left my mouth than I noticed my left lace was undone and I had to stop again. “No, THAT’S karma!” yelled Steven as he cheerfully trotted by.
What a joke, how was I ever going to catch Niall at this rate? I’d taken it easy at the start, avoiding the mad rush through the forest trails, setting in to a nice pace and slowly working my way up the field but Dr McAllinden was always just out of reach.
I managed not to lose any places on the long, steep descent and pleasant run along the side of the forest before hitting the trail up towards the impressive tor on top of Clachnaben – the Ayres Rock of the North East? I slowly reeled in Niall, catching him up just before the top. We traded places on the way down and I was wondering whether I’d ever get rid of him when a Dave Eiser, Steven Winter and another crashed by us. Hadn’t I already passed these guys?! Where do they get the nerve making me work like this? Emboldened I stuck with them, eventually gaining a lead through the muddy, tussocky trails and left all four of them behind.
The last few km were gentle downhill landrover tracks – ideal for long-legged road running types. So ideal that I was even able to catch up with Gregor of all people. It didn’t hold though, there’s one final push up a narrow hill and he easily overhauled me on that opening up enough of a gap in the last 500m.
This race had everything you would want in a championship counter; exciting course, quality field, cool sunshine, low-key organisation and free beer. Great chat on the bus up and back was the icing on the cake, thanks to all who made it a great day!