Monday, 7 May 2018

Cake race 2018

A proper summery race. Sun, dry heat, not a bit of shade, hard underfoot and generally hard running. With cake and beer at the end. What's not to like?
As a GDH champs, this was always going to be well attended by the Blue and Orange massive, and there were (or might have been) 32 of us. Ben Tetler was there, and he has been on fine form recently, putting in an excellent training block. Diggle and the surrounding hills are also his general stomping ground, so he was going to be putting in a good performance.

We started off, and I decided to be fairly circumspect in my start. Having been a bit injured from Teenager (muscle strain in right glute med) this was going to be a bit more about testing myself over 10 miles to ensure I'm not going to break down on the Old County Tops later this month. We started up the horrible rutted path on a fairly long, but very runnable climb. Although I started a few people back from the front of the line I soon found myself railing against the pace and picked myself up and past the guys in front, within about 400 metres I was in the front group with Ben and about 4 others. The pace felt fine.

Ben was resplendent in a massive beard, and he told me he hadn't really run in the heat much so far this year....Well, now might be a time to push him and see how he fairs... So I ran up with him, and as soon as he caught a glimpse of me, put a spurt on, which fairly broke him away from me and the other 3-4 guys. By the top of the first hill I'd managed to pass everyone else and had 2 runners on my tail, with Ben stretching out a lead of about 10 metres in front of us.
Down the causeway type thing onto the moor and a run up over Saddleworth. As we passed the reservoirs the hard breathing behind me gradually receded and I seemed to be very much on my own - Ben was bouncing away in front of me, maybe up to about 40 seconds ahead, so I kept my focus on him. For now it was just a fast run, but no issues as we crossed the moorland, and I could almost pretend I was just out for a nice run.

In and out of the cloughs and across the weir - dib the timing chip and down towards the Bridleway. This was the turning point... a long, almost flat bit of hardpack down to a dam. The heat was pretty intense and it was all I could do to not stop and just walk... I kept the pace as high as I dared, considering the next section of the race was back up onto the moorland again. 2nd place. Ridiculous. How did I get into this position? I've barely run for the past 3 weeks.

Hard, hard effort down to the dam, plunge down the steps, a pause as I work out where the heck the steps to go up are, and I can see Bens vest bobbing its way up the side of the dam... walking. Right. I set out to run as much of the steps as possible and was astonished when I was still running at the top, and gaining. Up and round the side of the golf course and the pace stayed fairly steady. I wasn't challenging for the lead - I just wasn't close enough yet, but was very cogniscent of the guy behind me. I couldn't hear him, there was no way I was going to look behind, but any reduction in pace would mean he was going to catch me.

Over a stile into a wood and 20 seconds of dithering looking for the path. There were a load of forestry markers that looked the same colour as the race flags... oh no! um... ah - over there... I ran over to the right, up down, over trees and through branches and found the path again, Ben had gained time on me, so there was nothing to do but try and make it back. Run every step up the hill and the banking, up to the road, down the steep groughy thing and back onto the moorland.

You could see forever.

If I could see Ben, the guy behind could see me. Only chance is to keep as high a pace as possible to make him think that catching me is either impossible, or too much like hard work. On and on and on. I was waiting for the final downhill - where we had come up at the beginning... at that point I was safe, home free... kind of. So I ran as hard as I dared over to the reservoir, and hit that final track - which was a bit longer than I anticipated. My final hard effort should have been maybe 600m... but I must have started it somewhere around 1.2km out, so was really really blowing by the time I came back in, a mere 20 seconds after Ben.
Hard run. 1:10:56. 2nd overall and 1st team. Great race - and loads of cake afterwards.

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