It was a relatively mild day for the regional cross country champion on Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, London. The course resumed to its normal distance after last year’s shorter distance following the rescheduled event due to the postponement following the severe weather.
Although it had rained a lot over the winter, the course did not appear to be any more difficult than normal. I had not done much running over the winter so was not confident of a good time. Sid Delara and David Campbell were also running, all of us over 50 years with Sid over 55 years. The men’s race is essentially for the seniors.
Most of the day was quite bright with forecast for a shower or two later but I thought we may get away with a dry event. The men’s events ends with light fading quickly but today it was more noticeable.
The course was quite soft if rather deep for stretches but the grip was fairly good so we managed to steer a fairly straight line. Starting off slowly and near the rear I still appeared to lose position more than I gained over the course. I quickly lost sight of David Campbell ahead of me and we did not see Sid Delara on the start line but he had arrived and collected his number and chip. The chip timing was only for the finish as normal here.
About 2K or more into the race, Sid swiftly overtook me giving me confidence he would also overtake David and finish well ahead.
Into the 2nd lap the weather started to change but I thought it was just the light fading as normally until light rain started. I still expected to finished before the worst came along and the sky did not look threatening. The wind however did pick up markedly but in our favour as we completed the 2nd lap and over Parliament Hill into the 3rd lap. I thought I could pick out Sid in the distance so thought I may meet Sid again before the finish.
I managed to maintain my pace although slower than normal. At the back of the course I did slip on that short sharp incline without hitting the deck! As the rain increased in intensity it did cause problems with my glasses and the ability to pick out a safe route to the finish. Lifting my legs a little higher I hoped would prevent a fall. I tried taking off the glasses but the sight was worse especially in the fading light. Wearing them I hoped for the best and tried to push on. Running uphill into the rain was unpleasant. Going down that final hill and filtering off towards the finish was also tricky, even at the best of times. Luckily the softer surface helped and I finished well although lost places when not expected.
Quickly met Sid near the finish line and we briefly chatted in poor conditions before going quickly to get out of the rain. Shortly afterward apparently I was told there was thunder and lightening by a later finisher who feared for his safety.
David Campbell 779th in 1.18.53
Sid Delara 905th in 1.25.43
Peter Simpson 908th in 1.25.57
Number of finishers 986. I believe my slowest time on this course.
Many thanks to Matt Woodman for the photos.