“It’s easier to go down a hill than up it but the view is much better at the top.”
-Henry Ward Beecher
Haunting words with what came but onto that in a bit.
Unlike 2yrs ago i arrived in plenty of time to pick up my number, have my kit checked and put my unnecessary clothes in Andrew Davies car boot. After what seemed an eternity getting into the start pen with number checks & checks we still had our kit we were unleashed around the cricket pitch, onto the road and into the peak district moorland.
I had started fairly easily and started to pick a few off we kept the constant and seemingly never ending climb before we were soon rounding the trig point and descending into the valley. Remembering my insane descent in 2012 i took it easy conscious of blowing the race early. Across the river and it was back climbing up through the woods and back into the heather filled moorland. A couple of hairy moments as i first fell into the heather, then stood ankle deep in a muddy bog, falling over and covering the right side of me in thick peat bog & mud.
Kevin Doyle & Andy Davies had, because of my faltering gained a minute or two on me but descending into the valley they appeared to the left, coming back from being off course, in front of me. Climbing back up higger tor and then along the rocks before descending slightly and up towards Stannage edge. Along the tops kevin & andy had again managed to increase the gap but bouncing from rock to rock i had a plan. I knew we were approaching the long descent into hathersage where i could use my downhill pace to catch them again.
Unfortunately, here disaster loomed, sprinting down bracken packed terrain i somehow managed to slip and landing on a sharp rock, I shredded my knee open.
This instantly swelled and blood poured down my shin. My part in the days racing action was over but if I could get going again i could now use the rest as a training run. The run down to the hathersage church steeple was with a comical bouncing knee. across the cow fields and I was finally at the water station. Not wanting to stop i grabbed a quick drink and began the long ascent and thru the bracken towards padley gorge where in 2012 i had managed to get lost. Determined to get it right this time me and the group of lads i was in crossed the river way to early and we found ourselves skipping slowly along the bank over tree roots and slippery rocks.
After what seemed an age we crossed the main road and headed towards and past the longshaw estate. Across the moors of fox house and up towards the totley moor trig point in a limping but determined way. Every time i picked up the pace my knee developed a sharp pain. Around the final checkpoint and the descent into totley again, I gritted my teeth with a mile to go trying to chase the guy in front down but was dereft of any pace. I finally made it around the cricket pitch and over the line. I grabbed a drink and dug into the table full of cake. Almost SRC x-country race quantity………almost.
Pre race aim had been 2hr 30-40min and I ran 2hr 39min 49sec, 27th overall and 12th male senior. A full hour faster than 2012. I have to be happy with that.
Andy Davies was 4th overall (2:26.34) with kevin doyle just behind. Its the 1st time Andy has beaten me and may have done anyway but i think the fall midrace cost me 12min. With us both doing the redbull steeplechase on October 5th a rematch is definitely on.