Watford Autumn Challenge XC 5 miles, 14/11/10

Report from Peter Simpson:

I was running this event for the third time and my first as event as a V50. It is a small event and this year the entries were lower which helped increase my chances of a possible category prize. Approaching the start, there were few runners wanting to be close to the start line, the exception being a guy who I thought may be my rival. We had a minutes silence before the start and when the whistle was blown to end the silence, there was almost a false start. We were soon off and the competition soon revealed itself as we slowly climbed for nearly half a mile in Cassiobury Park, turned right at the top and came back down further to the right. Many went past me up the hill but reaching the end of the park, there was 50 metres or so of tarmac before we crossed the Grand Union Canal and started the steepest climb into Whippendale Woods where the course stretched for 3 miles. It was tough but I immediately began moving up the field. There was a temporary blip as I hesitated going down a steep hill otherwise I continued to slowly overtake nearest runners including the lead woman. There appeared to be a little more mud and less leaves than on the previous two occasions but wearing my off-road shoes gave me confidence.

We descended back into Cassiobury Park with a short stretch of tarmac as we retraced the first mile. There was a long slow climb but my position did not change. Ahead of me was possibly a V50 I identified on the start line but was not reducing the gap fast enough. As we headed downhill for the final long stretch, our positions did not change and I was also aware of a possible challenge from behind. Crossing the line in 36.04 (as I learned later) it appeared that I finished in a high position but unsure of my category position. Due to the effort given I was left with a temporary sore throat and cough.

Back at the clubhouse there was a buffet provided by members of the host club plus drinks for a donation. Unfortunately there did not appear to be any food suitable for us apart from a drink. I spoke to the guy one place ahead and he turned out to be a V60. It is rare for me to be a contender for a prize so this occasion I thought could be special. There was a build-up to the V50 category winner as they called up the race winners and other category prizes of both genders. For a moment I was anticipating being called up but it turned out that the V50 winner was at least a minute ahead of me and only 2 seconds behind the V40 winner.