Tuesday’s training session at Ranelagh took the form of the annual Coad Cup cross country handicap race – a 4.96 mile course through Richmond Park.
I’d run round Richmond Park a few times and seen some of its interior during the recent 20 Ponds Run but never raced it.
The race was a handicap one (similar to the monthly handicap I run with the Stragglers running club), where the slowest runners (based on recent performances) start first and the faster ones start later. Everyone should in theory finish around the same time. This meant that I started fairly late out of the 76 runners (14th from the end to be precise).
I ran the race hard and my time over the 4.96 miles around 32:20, with an average pace of around 6 minutes 31 per mile. In the overall results I was 11th fastest. Average heart rate was 177 – maximum was 180. My overall position was 32nd, but officially it was 21st, as you need to have raced at least three times in this seasons club races to qualify (non-qualifiers run as “guests”).
As this is a handicap event the overall result doesn’t really matter to me, as everyone should “finish” at around the same time. For info, the fastest runner was Sam Perkins in 27:10 and the slowest took 55:53.
It was a fairly challenging course and a few people missed turnings (easily done) so their times will have suffered a bit.
Speaking of missed turnings, this is exactly what happened to Sharon – as a slower runner Sharon started earlier and thus had fewer people to follow/catch-up. Although the course was to the most part excellently marked out (small piles of sawdust at each turning) if you were not aware of the course then you could easily go wrong. As you run toward the Pen Ponds there is a sharp left hand turn. Sharon didn’t see a marker here (neither did I when I passed a few minutes later) and together with the sun in your eyes (it was a beautiful sunset by the way) and a large group of people playing ball right in that area she headed off into the sunset! A couple of minutes later the mistake was realised (“Why is there nobody running behind me? Where is everyone?”) and she had to turn back and return to the course. How annoying.
Frustratingly most of the hard work put in so far was lost and thus she had to push hard to try and make some sort of amends. I know Sharon overtook one lady who she’d already overtaken earlier in the race and by the time she got to the end she had finished 67th fastest and 58th overall. Had she not have missed the turning her overall position would have probably been in the top 20. Doh!
Finally a little history from the Ranelagh site – the Coad Cup was first competed for in 1948, having been presented to the Club by S.E.Coad in 1947.