Eltham Park Multi-Terrain 5 miles, 12 June

Ed: The event in south-east London was publicised as a club target, short enough with only short climbs for it to be achievable by members with limited fitness or event practice. Entry fees were also modest at £7 in advance.

The 2010 event was held in warm conditions when the off-road course was rather bumpy where there was no grass but this year the rains had come to soften up the surface. It was a bit wet & windy on the day otherwise comfortable under foot if you took precautions in places to avoid slipping. What I had not planned for in advance was the transport delays due to engineering works but luckily arrived with 20 minutes before the start. Immediately met Cherryl when I was uncertain of the time and needed to find the changing area. On entering the men’s changing gazebo I met new member Andrew Jackson and this other runner who began asking why we were there!

At the start all four of us including Theresa Webb met up. The race announcer tried to give final instructions with his amplifier switched off. Eventually after protests from runners he realised his error and started again. Meanwhile it was raining, windy and a bit cold standing around so we were keen to get it underway. To make up the 5 miles we were first directed around a short lap of Eltham Park followed by two sides of the park. We then crossed the bridge into Shepherdleas Wood, running along the edge of the woods to the far corner before turning onto the narrow paths inside the woods. We zig-zagged our way to the northern side, ran along the edge here and turned back into the woods where we had a short testing climb and a subsequent descent. Our lap of the woods was completed with a further perimeter run to the bridge. Crossing the bridge, lap 1 was completed, lap2 starting with a full lap of the park as marked out followed by another lap of Shepherdleas Wood and the final long straight run in the park to the finish line but into the wind.

I thought I was going well, overtaking many runners after my cautious start. I was returning from a calf strain injury that occurred on 23 May and aggravated again on 27 May when at the Bristol Veg Festival. Given the softer surface and the short distance I thought the risk was worth taking but approaching 3 miles I began to feel the left calf and shortly after starting the 3rd mile and before crossing the bridge into the woods, it was obvious the pain was increasing so pulled out to limit the damage.

I walked back in the opposite direction to the runners to see our runners: Cherryl, Theresa and Andrew in that order, all looking comfortable. Reaching the finish, I managed to change and support our runners as they approached the finish line. Unfortunately Cherryl was too quick for the photographer!

Our runners finished in the following times: Cherryl 41.06, Theresa 43.40 and Andrew 43.46 on his comeback following 3 years or so break. Theresa went onto a Pot Luck Raw Vegan Meeting in North London that afternoon otherwise we walked into town (me limping) to find a cafe.