Moorland MT 10k Race 2010


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Moorland MT 10k A new race this, but organised by TACH so we knew what to expect - the unexpected! It was another gloriously clear and crisp morning, though the snow and ice of recent weeks had thawed so conditions were likely to be very soft underfoot once again. I arrived stupidly early to make sure I got a number, so there was ample time to meditate in the relative warm of the car as other mud-o-phile runners began to gather. The Nailsea club were out in force, making me wonder if there was anyone at all left in Nailsea, which seems to have a big running population. Are they really all from London, faking those accents?

With half an hour to go I stiffly hauled myself out of the (by now cold) car and got some laps of the wood in - a nice solid path with a layer of soft leaves and sludge on top - good ground for a race. Twenty five minutes of jogging with some skips and knee lifts got me up to a decent working temperature with time to find the start line where we waited for the organiser - a couple of minutes late after making sure all the marshals were in the right places (more important than a precise start time obviously) he arrived to give us a witty mix of good information and the usual legalese/disclaimer that you have to have these days. Although we were going to race on a horse riding course, the jumps mentioned on the race poster were not going to happen after all, it seemed, which was good news.

I optimistically, as always, got myself just a few yards behind the front runners. Well, having blown up at around 10k the previous week I should be about right to run hard on a 10k course this week and not weaken too much at the end. Sound theory? All would be revealed. The start was a lap of the wood where I had warmed up, but round the outside through a field not on the path. It was muddy and wet, we duly bypassed the horse jumps, and I found myself placed about right - I wasn't overtaking and I wasn't having runners stream past me either. We were starting on high ground, so the course took a series of downward turns on tracks and field edges to bring us to the very flat low ground that stretched out to the Severn estuary - like a bit of Belgium or Holland transplanted to the west country with a network of motorways randomly thrown in to make it more English. The race across the flat was really varied - head-high reeds surrounded us on a path only a yard wide through a patch of marshland, then more fields, decent paths alongside rhines and ditches.

The field was spreading out and I found myself pretty much alone, sometimes in sight of the runners ahead and sometimes losing them when the course took a turn. Time slows down in races, and the moments seemed to stretch out and make me acutely self-aware. The intensity of effort in a race, the unrelenting nature of it, makes it such a different experience to training - for me it's so much more spiritually rewarding than just going out for a run. I need something to make me really single minded and give me the clarity of purpose, which then brings in the clarity of self-perception. It's all very simple really but hard to convey in words. It just is. There were styles and gates, steps in places, then a good section of deserted road bringing us back towards the start. I felt strong until the last mile or so, where we hit a series of inevitable climbs on very muddy ground that took it all out of me, but the last marshal (also the starter) recognised my club vest and called out "Sri Chinmoy! Great!" which gave me a lift.

The path where I had warmed up was the last section of the race, then into the yard and a final turn into the stables themselves to finish under cover. Great course, great organisers and a great experience on a really beautiful morning.

Shock news! I was 11th out of 185 which is a big improvement over recent races - not as unfit as I thought?

Results are at:

Photos at: