It has been 6 years since I last ran this local event and a photo of our 2003 team is still on the website. With an 11am start I had plenty of time to get there and should have been there with over an hour to spare but railway service had power problems leading a the cancellation. The next service was not stopping at Tring but gave me an extra challenge of a 4 miles cycle ride with only 45 minutes to go and progressively uphill and into the wind. Arrived 15 minutes before the start, passing Andy Jordan of the VC&AC in the opposite direction and about half a mile at least to the start line.
The length of the start line is about one car width with over 400 runners lining up. Arriving late it was difficult to get near the start line so once we were off within a minute or two it was difficult to get past the slower runners. Eventually managed that in spite of the mile long narrow road/path. Suddenly there was a long gap to the faster runners but soon caught them up although tired after the fast cycle ride.
Switching to off-road I relaxed a little before once again pushing on uphill and resumed overtaking especially as we descended to our lowest point, passing through some muddy stables. It was followed by an upward struggle for the next mile or so which gradually became more demanding until we reached the official Ridgeway where we could relax and return to normality. Still managed to move up the field on the hill otherwise on the Ridgeway my position was fairly stable. On the descent a mile or two further on I lost some places due to not being sure of my footing and similarly moved backwards in the field as we climbed the next short hill. Along the windiest stretch I seemed to be fairing a little better although my number and vest felt like they were going to take off.
At this point there is a marvellous view but unfortunately you are concentrating on your footing as the terrain quickly descends and the path enters the forest. Here there are all sorts of obstacles to trip up the runner as the path winds its way down the hillside, the worst being the steps which in fact slowed me up rather than risking the leaps. Suddenly near the bottom I appeared to be overtaken by some specialist fell runners who were in a different league.
Back onto the road it felt tougher for a while as we turned left onto the narrow mile long stretch, passing through the start with still half a mile or so to go, finishing on the sports fields near the pavilion. That last half a mile was tiring but still maintained my position. It was only a day later I knew my accurate time of 1.11.39 and 52nd position which was rather surprising given my late arrival and the brisk cycle ride.
Getting to my next destination was no easier with my scheduled train also cancelled.