Hot hot hot!
I knew it was going to be a scorcher when the dogs got me up at 4.45am. The air was warm and humid even then, and sunny! How the hell am I supposed to have a lie in when the dogs reckon it's time for food and walks I managed to fob the dogs off with a handful of dog biscuits, and went back to bed for an hour, they weren't too happy but I wasn't going to give in and get back up till a more sensible hour.
It was even warmer when I did get back up at six, the predictions were for the hottest day of the year, and the weathermen looked like they got it right. I had my porridge, had the usual panics about forgetting some vital bit of race kit, or getting there and them not having any record of me entering the race, but I was fine. it was only a short drive from home to the race HQ, and I collected my number no problem.
After a bit of a chat to a few folks from Low Fell, I caught up with Stuart and his family who I'd last seen at Gibside in November. He did the fun run with his kids (well done to them in the heat), then it was only a short wait till the 10k. I've done the 5k before so I had a kind of a mental image of what I thought the course was like....totally wrong
We set off from the path just behind the college, followed the 5k route right around the lake, up the hill, and back along passed where we started. Then the fun started. I was chasing Stuart right from the start, he was about 200m ahead of be, and you couldn't miss his bright orange shirt (kind of like my shorts). I was aiming to stay steady and gain ground slowly, but it was tough as he was a lot stronger on the hills. He headed into the woods, and the the course became what some might call 'undulating' I'd call it bloody hilly. Up-down-up-down and totally disorientating, the trails in the woods were narrow, but at least it got you out of the sun which by this point was bloody roasting. Stuart was still there ahead of me, I could see flashes of orange through the trees when I wasn't looking at my feet to avoid obstacles.
Over the next 2k I managed to gain around 150m, and then we were out of the woods into farmers fields. I was aiming to pass him in the next five minutes, but he suddenly diverted off the course - pit-stop I couldn't really count it as a victory, so I tried to target some other folks to hang onto.
Before long we we back near the lake, I thought we must be doing another lap or something, but I spotted the 6k marker and thought "hang on, this cant only be 6k, surely" but unfortunately it was and we were back in the woods. Stuart caught me on the trail just as Carl (one of the marshals) gave me the ever helpful advice "Keep going", but then followed it up with "It's not like you have an option". *giggles*
We chatted a bit through the woods, well the sort of one word breathless "Do you know where the hell we are" conversation you strike up with your fellow competitors. Then we had to cross a stream, and the course climbed up again to a much needed water station. I wasn't really struggling so much, just that my legs wouldn't go any quicker , but then we were flying down a steep bank back towards the lake again.
Stuart pushed on on the other side, on the last big hill. I managed to run up 80% of it, then had to walk and stretch my legs for a few seconds. It's a bit of a mental blow walking, but my legs were complaining at all the hill action. He was away now, but I just concentrated on making it through the last kilometre. As I turned the last bend I could hear someone hot on my heels, and a guy who I'd passed earlier came striding passed. I didn't have the energy to chase him in the heat and was glad just to have made it round.
Finishing time: 51:20
I collected my goody bag, had a chat with Ellen (a friend of Jenny from Heaton), Sarah from Blackhill Bounders (3rd lady well done you!), and Joy from Sunderland Strollers (1st L40 - many grats!), and then hung around for the presentation - I got 1st L35
All in all I really enjoyed the race, it was far too hot, and there were too many uppy-downy bits, but the course was interesting - even though I spent most of the race cursing. I'd definitely give it another go next year.Many thanks to Low Fell RC and to the guys & gals out marshaling in that heat!