Epsom Downs and the grandstand from the air
This race started on Epsom downs, alongside the famous race course that hosts the derby. Changing was in the jockey's room, so I weighed myself out of interest before the start on the jockey's scales - 9 stone 11 in my kit and shoes. There were handicap weights on the table, but I didn't feel obliged to take any! With the Sodbury epic nicely run out of my legs, I was hopeful once again of a Pb (my previous was 65 mins and not sure how many seconds, set in Cheddar about 10 years ago, when the race was billed as 10 miles but had to be extended to 11.5 because of road closure problems - that time comes from glancing at my watch at the 10 mile marker).
As it turned out, the course was hillier than I expected, and I narrowly missed out on 64. It was probably still a PB but until I break 65 minutes I can't really claim that one. It was dry and mild on the downs, if a bit breezy, so I had a chance to warm up and also meditate a little before the start looking out over the open downland. I felt pretty well ready to run when we were hastily gathered in the road - some 350 runners I think - and a horn sent us on our way down the hill towards Headley.
The first mile was fast, although I was holding back, but plenty of undulations in miles 2 to 5 meant I couldn't keep up the early pace. I tried to hang with a small pack, then dropped back to hang with another, moving up a couple of positions later, so all in all you could say I "held my own" position-wise. The air was good, the traffic was light and the beautiful, wooded county of Surrey was unfolding around us in all her Autumnal beauty. This is the district where I was born and brought up, so there was a deep sense of familiarity, even though I didn't remember these actual roads from my youth. The half way point came at over 63 minutes - a little disappointing - but the markers were not in perfect position (as revealed by wildly differing times for each mile that the slopes alone could not explain) and I still harboured hopes of 64 mins and something seconds. Girding my loins for the second half I reminded myself that the last mile was allegedly downhill so I just had to get to mile 9 with a shot at a fast finish. There were a couple of hills then some undulating ups and downs after mile 8, but when I got to that last mile marker, with pleasant cooling drizzle just beginning, I was looking at a sub 6 mile if I wanted that PB. I really went for it, but 6.05 was all I could muster. Still, a great workout on a pleasant and attractive course.
Thanks to E & E Harriers for a great event - good value, good facilities, not a PB course perhaps but not far off, with a single drink at 6 miles. I weighed in again to find I had sweated 2.5 pounds. Phew.
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