Saturday was the second cross country race in the Chiltern League calendar held at cassiobury park in Watford. For some reason I expected a flat course but instead we were presented with a challenging hilly course that certainly got pulses racing. It was 9km and involved an out and back beginning section and a woodland loop which we would run twice.
15 senior male LBAC runners lined up for the start. The female race had started eariler with 4 runners representing the club. 300+ runners toed the start line as we were set on our way down hill. It was a pretty frantic first half mile as everyone attempts to position themselves. You soon learn from these affairs that unlike other races going out too fast is an absolute must if you aren't too get stuck in the pack using even more energy later in the race to pick off people as it gets stretched out.
My first mile was a 6.06 which included a climb. I found the early downhill sections especially pleasing as I let rip and passed quite a few less sure footed runners more hesitant to let gravity do the work. I worked hard on the uphill sections too which weren't too steep but a few of them quite long.
Soon into the second loop it was evident I was tiring but so were those around me. It was a case if survival mode now and holding position. The pattern of the race was that I was passed by a handful of runners on the flat sections but would take back the places on the ascents and descents as I pushed to keep in contact with those infront.
With the second loop over it was a 1/2 mile or so slog to the finish initially downhill and then a long uphill to the finish. I was planning for this section for most of the second half of the race determined to hold back some fire in the legs and pick off runners up the final hill. It worked a treat as I passed one by one each pass being a small victory. Then there was the usual finishing straight sprint for the line against a fellow competitor. I pulled alongside and he pushed I went with him and he pushed again, but I sat back, he relaxed and I pushed with everything I had which he responded to but I took the photo finish! :-)
Total distance - 5.33m according to the garmin in a time of 34.01 and 76th place (4th for the club) out of 210 division one runners and 331 runners in total. I enjoyed almost every second and look forward to the next XC fixture on 4th Dec which promises to be even hillier than this one with more mud!