For a single race commentary this one does go on a bit, you have been warned.
Saturday morning dawned beautifully as I pulled back the curtains to gaze over the sunlit Coed y Brenin. I had laid in with permission from Dorina who was already long gone in the direction of a cafe, she had agreed that I was not worth a fleeting place on the pots before U-turning to the CyB for the Goldrush Trail race.
With a start time of 1:00 pm I lased around, unusually watched the box to learn just how complicated you can make cooking & then rushed around, which shoes, banana’s, isotonic, pins…, the usual mental memory game before setting off down the drive at 12:00 for the start line. Walking the hills to the start I wanted to show passing mountain bikers that I could run them if I wanted to but didn’t, could be a vague sign of maturity as I conserved the energy for later.
After registering I bumped into Arwel Lewis & a few other familiar faces including the guy who called out from behind me last year after I’d missed a turning, the atmosphere was relaxed in the Spring sunshine as we waited to be called to the start.
I set off hard on the first climb closing in on the lead woman & Arwel but wisely decided not to attempt to pass as it would be pushing too hard too early. About 4K in the lead woman was now 50 metres ahead & Arwel had disappeared from view when the second placed woman drew alongside me. Quick comments were exchanged ‘I think you’re in 2nd & will catch her’ ‘I’m not sure about that but might if you pace me’. Lucy then decided not to be paced by me & moved ahead by a few yards. I then surprised myself re-took her before we both overtook the lead woman on a steady climb.
The long descent to the first Bailey bridge had my ears ringing with female feet as they both pursued in my wake & then it happened. On the zigzags to the bridge I used the opportunity they presented to look at my pursuers only to see to my disgust the second woman cut out the zigzags & descend to the bridge in a straight line & in the process passed both Lucy & me! Lucy held out her hands in a ‘did you see that gesture’, I replicated, was it deliberate cheating or just a Fell Runner not understanding that on Trails you don’t cut corners? Let’s be graceful & say it was the latter. Despite this I felt we would both get her on the climbs to come & duly did, justice would be done.
The second half of my race would see me duel with a guy who ‘couldn’t’ climb but was a good descender. After I initially overtook him as he walked the top of a steep climb we must then have passed each other half a dozen times but I knew I would get him on the final climb to the finish. Whilst this was going on I was also conscious of keeping Lucy following my pace rather than me following hers (this could be seen by some as a tad competitive of me). The descender (Tom) came past me once again just before the final climb but I knew his goose was soon to be cooked.
The climb began, ‘what, he’s running hard’, the climb steepened, ‘he’s still running hard, I’m not closing’, you can guess the rest. Tom, or to be more precise ‘I’ had lulled myself into a false sense of security, it was MY goose that was over-cooked by Tom & 6 seconds.
Crossing the line in 1:12:17 I at least had the pleasure of believing I’d done a pb by 32 seconds over the year before. This sense of achievement was added to by my beating the 1st placed woman (don’t think I’ve done that in a race before), as I turned to see who that would be I was delighted to see that it was rightly Lucy who claimed the Woman’s title some 42 seconds later & more than 2 minutes ahead of her rival. A congratulatory arm around Lucy ‘You deserved that & won fair & square’, ‘thank you but I couldn’t keep up with you’ came her pleasant reply. A few minutes later in the company of her husband Greg (he’d finished two places behind Lucy, think we both overtook him on the long run in) a final comment to Lucy ‘if it had been neck & neck I would have had to say something to the organisers’ but thankfully Lucy’s effort was good enough for me to keep quiet & allow her to hug her rival & smile.
Jogging home I could cheer other runners on as I passed them heading to the finish as well as several Canni-cross competitors. At home I then checked my computer for the result, Gun time said 1:12:18, my watch 1:12:16, I was a respectable 25th out of 177 finishers. Call to cafe, ‘I did a pb’ ‘did you darling, well done, we’re busy’, quick shower & I’m off to belatedly help.
Once the cafe went quiet I checked last year’s time, ‘what, 1:12:17! Have I done a pb or not?’
Only my computer at home could answer that, the wait was agonising thoughts in my head ‘what’s my chip time? what’s my bloody chip time?’ (runners will know what I’m thinking about). Home at last I sprinted from the car to my office went onto TDL’s excellent result service, my chip time read 1:12:17. Running for nearly an hour & a quarter over 8.5 hilly miles I had run exactly the same time as one year before, just what are the chances of that?? I was temporarily gutted!
Of course I am over that now & can reflect with pride on my best run of the year so far but if one more person says ‘well look on the bright side you are one year older & not slowing down’ they should note that they are asking for it & will get it!
In truth it was another great day on a wonderful trail so my thanks to Matt Ward, Dyfy & Sian Roberts & all their team for hosting us once again & congratulations to Tom Roberts who blasted round to win the Men’s race in 56:42 beating last years winner Ifan Richards into second place by almost two minutes.