We were fortunate to miss the severe spell of wintry weather that was about to hit England at least. Although conditions under foot were perfect, there was a very cold wind chill from the east as we were warned. With that in mind I wore two long tops underneath the vest, tights plus head protection and gloves. At the start there were still runners in just a vest with wind chill temperatures of -5C or so expected. Met Laurence here still wearing his fleece top until the last moment.
After the previous weekend’s regional cross country I suffered a stomach upset but not necessarily due to the event. On the Monday following the event, just sitting upright was uncomfortable let alone walking. At that point it was a matter of recovery in time for this event. Fortunately it was not prolonged and I was back to normal by the end of the week. Obviously I was now going to be taking the Watford event more cautiously.
Off we went soon downhill in Cassiobury Park with the wind behind us. Coming out of the park we took a right turn back in the opposite direction parallel to the park but into the cold wind for several minutes. Turning back into a westerly direction again and eventually out into the countryside we hardly noticed the wind again until we came back into the park near the end. It is about 7 years since I last ran this undulating event which was more uphill in the first half. Despite the conditions, I soon had to remove the gloves otherwise feeling comfortable apart from the hill climbs. As we reached halfway and started turning back, the sun came out and it felt spring like sheltered from the wind.
Coming back into Watford I began to lose some places and was not feeling too energetic. With two miles to go and near the Metropolitan line bridge I had to stop but only to tie up the laces. We soon had a slow tiring climb before the park entry where we were greeted by the biting wind into our faces for about a few hundred metres. Turning into the straight with about 300 metres to go, Ade from the VC&AC overtook me on the inside which prompted me into starting my fast finish early. I was concerned I might not be able to keep up the pace and lose the battle but in the end there was a wide gap between us. The earlier lace problem may have prevented me from finishing under 1.40 but then again Ade gave me that extra incentive to push harder earlier than intended.
After the chat at the finish, the darkened sky and snow flurries prompted me to get back inside as soon as possible. A problem then arose trying to retrieve our baggage given the shortage of volunteers and the fact they were being stored under the stage and a level down. Hundreds of runners were soon gathering around the tables calling out or showing their number. It was a bit of a melee but I was lucky to get my baggage back in 20 minutes, meanwhile there were queues building up to the end of the large hall. With more volunteers arriving the situation did ease.
Luckily for some including Laurence and Verna they chose not to use this facility. Laurence and I visited the adjoining cafe as planned and later our other three runners Verna Burgess, Frances Humphries and Colin Braybrook also joined us but not all at the same time. By the time we left, the hall was almost deserted. Days later I notice my missing two tops and vest, somehow they were left behind presumably in the hall.