It’s almost all about Kean.
I have Kean’s kindness to thank for what is about to follow, so thank you mate.
On yet another day off (he’s trying to out-do me) Kean called into the cafe 3 weeks ago & offered me a lifeline to get one back on him for three consecutive defeats to the Fading Legend. This was in the form of ‘Paul, I’ve entered the Two Lakes Trail race, it’s a half marathon circling Llyn Brenig & Llyn Alwyn’, the bait was laid, a chance to race him on ‘my’ type of terrain! Well actually I prefer fell races but my poor descending & less competitive fields mean I finish relatively better on the trails.
Within days I had entered & shortly afterwards on the Sunday before last Kean & I were shaking hands on the start line before another familiar face came into view. This was in the form of Bob Hinds whom I first met in the Welsh 1,000 metre Peak race in 2014. In 2013 Bob had won the 5 peak version of the Mountaineers 1,000 metre race & I had won the 4 peak version. In 2014 there was only a 4 peak version & we were pitted together, it turned into a battle royal for the first couple of hours before I finally made the gap tell as Bob made a nav. error & resigned himself to second. A great result for me until you consider that Bob was already in his 60’s whilst I was still in my 40’s. In truth Bob would have known how heavy the trophy was & probably let me win in order to avoid lifting it at the Prize Giving. Back to the here & now, Bob looking tanned & honed strode over & shook my hand.
Soon Joe, the race organiser, called us to the start & we were off, what followed was one of the most rewarding races I can remember. In brilliant blue skies with an occasional & much needed cooling breeze the course was absolutely stunning, I have no hesitation in saying if you want to look for a trail race next year put this one firmly on your list (there is a Canicross too & a 10K if they suit you better).
Having surprisingly dropped Kean early on I tracked Bob for the first 3K or so before his pace slowed slightly & I edged ahead, however any thoughts of complacency were soon smashed away as Bob soon re-closed the gap & hung onto me like a tiger. Try as I might I couldn’t shake him for the first half of the race, this was a race, top 10…, can I catch the first female…., where’s Kean….., for christsakes Bob, your in your mid-sixties, give me a break!
Finally the gap began to grow, we were both passed by two younger bucks but both passed the lead woman as she finally slowed in the final kilometres. One last hill, can’t see Bob, thoughts of I’m safe drifted through my mind as I ran into a final glorious descent to the finish.
Bob was next to come in less than a minute behind after more than 1 Hour 40 Minutes of racing, we shook hands, we both knew this had been an un-official re-match, I was delighted with the result but total respect, he’s giving me at least 12 years & probably one or two more.
In the end I missed a top 10 coming in 11th out of 69 but when the results were posted two days later my hunch was correct, I’d won my O.50 category & I was in heaven.
So what of Kean I hear you ask (well Kean at least might be asking that), well let’s be kind, this was ‘my’ terrain, he came 3rd in the O.50’s & will be an O.60 very soon, so a bloody good effort all in all & you could see genuine delight as we shook hands once again.
A few days later, another day off for Kean saw us chewing the cud, Kean’s words ‘less than a minute between you & Bob? that’s racing!!’
Two final reflections:-
1. You have to take part in events like these to truly understand how good it feels to give something your all & come out smiling irrespective of where you finish, I am sure everyone who took part must have felt the same elation when they got their tired bodies to the finish. Thanks Joe & your team.
2. Had Kean been in the O.60’s he wouldn’t have won that category either!! Just kidding mate, look at it as motivation for the 1,000’s next month, it’s still 3 – 1 in your favour, did I really just reflect on that, again!