Remarkably for an event so close by train, my last venture here was back in 1992 when it was a small event of maybe 300, now well over 1000, plus an increasingly popular 5 mile fun run. The venue remains essentially the same, the Berkhamsted cricket club with picturesque countryside & the Chiltern hills bordering the grounds. How it manages to handle a field of this size is a feat in itself.
It was a very cold start but sunny and dry. Met up with Steve Davies before the start and we ended up starting together due to the reluctance of faster runners to fill the gaps ahead of me as the final countdown began. Knowing that this was my first road race of the year and longest since last September, I took it cautiously. A couple of miles into the race we were due to climb up onto the top of the local hills and I was not certain of the hills ahead. Thereafter it was flat before descending slow for quite a long time and with the hills now towering above us again I new another long climb was coming. From about halfway we had the long and for a period fairly steep climb that eased off towards the end. A mile or so later we entered the picturesque Ashridge Park where we descended and climbed again. I was beginning to doubt my fitness and concerned about my hamstrings trying to tell me something. As we left Ashridge we had a period of mostly downhill or flat road that restored my confidence however I seemed to be regularly overtaken despite my consistent pace.
At one point an overtaking male runner asked in a friendly manner how I get my protein? He also commented that he was impressed by my position / pace but after my quick response he accepted and moved ahead into the distance. A modest climb or two later we then began the long descent I was expecting from mile 12. Still I kept being overtaken but was descending at a good pace and picked up some places on the short flat section to the finish. I just missed a gun time below 1.38 but the chip secured it and I achieved my target of under 1.40. Steve Davies long since finished gave me a welcome cheer as I approached the line. We briefly met-up with Colin Braybrook who was running on tired legs after a cross country run of 10 miles the previous day but still managed 1.26.56! Later by chance I was near the finish when Frances Humphries’ name was announced as crossing the line.