Always keen to try something different, I opted for the Darlington Harriers Pitstop 10km rather than the New Marske Harriers Coast Road 5km on Wednesday 5 July 2006.
Rather than 2 times round a loop on the Stray at Redcar, the Pitstop 1okm was 3 (and a bit) times round the Croft Motor Racing circuit near Darlington. Flat, fast, no sharp bends - no breeze - high temperatures!
I got there early, as my number had failed to arrive in the post. I was allocated '129' and looked forward to a good field. Unfortunately, I later learned that the organisers had started at '100', and the total field ended up about 50!
I managed to get a decent warm up, and had a reasonable fast start. The first few shot off into the distance, and I settled into a good rhythm alongside a young lad from Newton Aycliffe. After about 4km, he started to struggle a little, and would drop 5m behind, only to battle his way alongside again - and again - and again - and again!! Was I ever going to break him?
At last, at about 8km, he dropped back and his footsteps faded away - or did they? At 9km, I heard footsteps approaching from behind, and some seriously heavy breathing! Had he managed to regain strangth ready for a final push to the line? No - it was worse!! Martin P had caught me, and he pushed on past, working very hard.
Now having raced against Martin for the last 25+ years, I know how hard he can drive on, but that he does lack pace, or at least, a change in pace. 'Dig in, Christopher. If you can stay in touch until the last 200m, you can pick the pace up and stride away to the line!!' Easier said than done!! That was a very, very hard last km.
Suffice it to say the game plan worked out as predicted, and I also managed to dip under 40 mins with 39.52 and 6th place. But did I feel awful when I finished!! 'I shouldn't have done that!' I told Martin.
I hung around for the prizegiving, but I think several people were disappointed that the prizes weren't spread around a bit more. Both male and female winners were vets, and in the winning teams, so each ended up with 3 prizes apiece!!
Still, another experience - a new venue for me, ran well in the hot conditions, still racing at the end, and I beat an old rival to boot!