I am always encouraged to enter this event despite travel difficulties. Adrian Gibbon from the Vegetarian C&AC & his wife Jill have organised a post-race veggie buffet (including vegan food) in their garden each year for as far back as I can remember. Members of his local hashing club as well as members of the VC&AC and VRUK are invited.
To reduce the cycling to a minimum to conserve energy meant catching the 550am coach (replacing trains) to Leighton Buzzard followed by a 50 mins cycle journey to Aylesbury where I caught the train to High Wycombe. A later coach would not have allowed me to reach the venue in time for the start. Thought I had plenty of time to cycle to Aylesbury when in fact on arrival there were only 90 seconds to go so, no time to buy a ticket until the other end or a conductor passing through. Arrived in High Wycombe at 8am for 9.30am start. The weather was rather cool but windy so fairly good conditions for running at this time of year.
Lots of VC&AC members were entered and for VRUK we also had Ed Banks, Sharon Davidson and Maria Hamilton, 10 in all, one of the biggest meet-ups of veg*n runners other than at the London Marathon. We knew this region is a hotspot for active veg*n runners and so it proved at this event. I recall seeing just about everyone at the start or passing them in the first mile.
My training in the months leading up to this event was rather patchy with other commitments to cycling so, I had only run a maximum distance of 10K since the beginning of May. I was going to treat this event with caution especially following my experience at the 2006 event when I suffered a calf strain and had to retire after 4 miles. Started well back amongst the group of veg*n runners. The event was held on the Rye as normal so had a long stretch on grass before transferring to the road and shortly it was the long and most difficult part of the course up the hill and onto the top of the Chilterns. Slowly overtook runners as we went up the hill and passed Sharon who obviously lined up well ahead of me.
Despite the hill, I was feeling none the worse as we ran along the top towards Flackwell Heath continuing to slowly move up the field. Plenty of support from the locals in Flackwell Heath as usual. Leaving the village we descend sharply towards Bourne End where I felt my hamstrings react a little. Once into Bourne End I began to feel more confident and increased the pace a little on the main road towards Wooburn Green. By now I seemed to be catching everyone in sight but would the energy last until the end. Ade Gibbon had gone ahead of me before the hill out of High Wycombe so I was assuming I would soon catch him especially as he was a V55 (if I am correct!).
The second half certainly turned into a race for me but could not see or catch Ade, I had obviously got my tactics wrong in this minor dual. Continued to feel strong (despite running into the wind for most of the last few miles) and energetic running back into the park and increased the pace again to the line for a satisfactory performance and start to my marathon training for Abingdon on 19 October. My time was 1.41.19 and soon met up with Ade who finished in 1.40.13. Ahead of all of us by approaching 3 miles was Ed Banks in 1.21 for 25th place. Ed however had high hopes of a better time and certainly would like to have broken 1.20. Despite his disappointment we are very proud of Ed’s achievement. Sharon had a good run to finish in 1.55 and Maria 2.03. We met up again with the VC&AC runners and our veg*n presence was noted by a lot of the other runners and spectators.
Later some of the veg*n runners came along to Ade & Jill’s post-run veggie buffet but numbers where down previous years when we usually had about 15. Lots of food on offer, some dishes brought along by other runners. The sun came out briefly to remind us it was summer otherwise it was probably the ‘coolest’ gathering in two senses. We certainly were well on the way to recovery after the buffet thanks again to Ade, Jill and contributors.
It was not the end of my physical exersions yet as I had the ride from Aylesbury back to Leighton Buzzard and more uphill than down. It proved to be a tiring ride but a good warm down. The veg*n running tour of the area continues at the Bearbrook 10K near Aylesbury on 10 August followed by the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon on 17 August. In both events we have a significant veg*n presence as listed in the diary.