South of England Masters XC Champs, 11/12/10

Report by Peter Simpson:

This was my first championship race in my new age category, V50. The race was held at Shuttleworth College near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire and incorporated the South of England inter-counties XC champs. There was a separate race for the V50/V60 men so I was probably the youngest present. I had hardly trained for the past two weeks just the club session in Kensington Gardens the previous Sunday. I also had about 10 miles of cycling from Bedford after a train journey. Took my road shoes as well as cross country shoes due to the recent freezing spell and still had memories of 3 years ago when I ran on frozen ground in the county champs.

I was not expecting a lot of runners in the V50/V60 race and found myself lining up almost on the start line. The course was a small lap followed by 3 large laps with a hill halfway. A lot of runners went past me on the small lap and wondered without looking back if I was close to the rear. There was a long straight approaching the hill and we were running into the slight wind. The hill was especially tough on the second and third laps. Other junior races were also started during our race but it was only approaching completion of the 2nd lap that the leading boys started overtaking me as they were about to finish their race. I got confused and nearly followed them and at the last moment was directed by a marshal to keep to the right to start the 3rd lap and referred to me as ‘senior runner’.

I moved up a few places on the second/third laps otherwise we were well spread out and still thought I was close to the rear. The home straight was quite fast and managed to pick up pace despite feeling exhausted at the end. It was only when the results were posted on the window of the club house that I was surprised to find I finished slightly below halfway 47/85 and in a much faster time than expected of 43:11.

As we lined up at the start a competitor spoke to me who was vegan and told me that he ran one of the Plamil Half Marathons organised in the late 1980s and was the winner. After the race other fellow competitors asked about the vegan diet, etc and the usual question ‘What do you eat?’.

Later I supported some of the junior inter-county races before heading back on the bike to Bedford. Took the longer route via the official entrance, adding 2-3 miles and generally cycling into the wind and it was a tiring journey. Just caught my hourly train but it turned out to be the Santa Special to Bletchley and was full of families. Managed to get a seat close to Santa’s grotto!