After the first race of the Surrey League fixtures a few weeks ago I was looking forward to getting muddy again. My plan was not to run any parkrun events in the morning to save myself for the Surrey League race but as you’ll read on my Bromley parkrun entry, that didn’t quite happen this time! Oops.
After arriving with plenty of time at Coulsdon (ie., about 3.5 hours before the start!) I toured the town centre - and made full use of the library and the local Café Nero. After out-staying my welcome at the coffee shop I headed to the car to fetch my running gear and to go sign on at the South London Harriers clubhouse. At this point the weather was abysmal - pouring with rain and blowing a gale. Much like conditions at the earlier parkrun.
Thankfully today there were quite a few fast runners in the Ranelagh team to it was very unlikely that I’d be a scorer for the team (fastest ten men). This meant that I didn’t have to kill myself out on the course, but if a faster team mate pulled out then I’d be there to do whatever I could to earn us some points.
When I last ran here a few weeks ago for the Ranelagh/SLH Mob Match I wore my trail shoes. After all the recent rain and the fact that my trail shoes felt like they’d been sat in a bucket of water from my morning run out came my XC shoes - with the longest spikes that I had (15mm I believe). These look more like ‘beavers teeth’ than spikes!
As the starting signal was made over 150 of us headed uphill into a nasty headwind. My plan was to have a strong steady run but not over-do it. I watched some of my team-mates (Andy B., Chris O., Trevor M.) drift ahead of me and I tried to keep at least one of them in my sights.
Before long I settled into lap one of this two lap course (total distance 5.41 miles). There were plenty of people to aim for and running in spikes was perfect - you always had great grip and never slipped, even on the muddy, leafy surfaces.
At the end of the first lap I was reliably informed that I was 12th Ranelagh man - so out of the scoring team. Phew! I would love to score for the team one day, but only when I’m putting 100 percent into the race (and when the real fast guys aren’t there).
I soon found a nemesis for the race - a chap from SHL who was running well, but just didn’t seem to look very comfortable when he was running. We swapped places a few times and for most of the race he was ahead of me. He wasn’t skin-and-bone (like myself) and I felt that I should be ahead of him, so made sure this happened.
The only thing that got in the way was a slight stitch that I got at the start of the second lap. I was tucked in behind another runner as we battled against the headwind but I had to just ease off as it was hurting. After two or three minutes I was able to push on and try and close the gap.
With a mile or so to go I made my move and pulled ahead of the SLH guy - I pushed harder from here on in and remained ahead through to the finish.
My finishing time was 36:38 and I finished 109th out of 151. In race one of this season I finished 102nd out of 152 runners - so not so bad for a ‘steady’ run.
For info, the winner (Paskar Owor from Belgrave Harriers, who has represented his home country of Uganda at two Olympic games!) romped home in 28:31 .
The next race of the series is at Richmond Park on 12 December. Stay tuned…