It was a spare of the moment decision this morning to run the Aldbury cross country 5 (I was reading Runners World race directory as I sat on the loo :-) but I’m glad that I did as it was a glorious day and a great race.
The route is hilly with part of it on the well known Ridgeway trail.
The first 1\2 mile is a steep climb from Aldbury village up to Ashridge monument. I put myself near the front of the 200 or so runners starting as I knew from 2008 that this first climb is somewhat of a bottleneck if not cleared quickly. Once at the top having passed a few on the way up I found myself quite surprisingly in 2nd place. The guy in front (a Tring AC runner) was pushing the pace about 20 or so yards ahead but not so much that I didn’t think I could match it so I just tucked in behind from afar and settled into my stride.
I half expected those behind to soon be on my tail but as the hills rolled on up so did my confidence. The views from the Ridgeway over looking the Chilterns are fantastic and certainly take your mind off the exertion as did the great support from the many ramblers and Sunday walkers out and about. The Tring runner in 1st place was pulling out a comfortable lead by half way not that I ever thought I could catch him as he seemed so at ease in his stride whilst I was giving it everything I had.
Once onto some tighter twisting trails at around 3-4miles into the race I heard 3rd place behind me as the stile gate banged. I wasn’t surprised... I'm not a 'proper' XC runner and really shouldn't be so high up the field. It was only a matter of time before they all passed me and punished my early enthusiasm. However, 3rd place was alone (great :-) so I told myself just to stick with him for as long as I could. My knowledge of the course told me by this point that there was only about a mile and half to go so I just hung on. The pace was quick but what goes up must come down so we were enjoying the long decent back to the start\finish area after the climbs through out. I could see the 4th place guy by now and kept an eye on the gap but it didn’t seem to be closing :-)
I was so happy with 3rd position as this stage that I didn’t have the will or the legs to try challenging for 2nd. One right turn later and there was the finish line with my wife and daughter waiting for me. What a nice feeling. I was pretty chuffed with 3rd spot :-) I wasn’t wearing a watch so didn’t know my time either. I had run 40 minutes in 2008. The times were posted on the club house; 34:34 for me. A nice boost for next week in London and a podium spot for the 2nd race in succession :-) However something tells me this run of podium finishes may come to an end in London!...but I can always dream ;-)