Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Racing on home ground

Racing on your own home patch can have it's advantages and it's disadvantages!

If you are running a road or fell race where you know the route, or orienteering in a familiar area, I find it does give you a slight advantage - you know the hard bits of the course, the 'stings in the tail', the narrow bits, the wet bits, the scenic bits. You know where the finish is, and you know when to start the drive for home!

You can also get complacent - too busy racing, and you miss that turn! Just like I did last Sunday!

The race from The Eskdale in Castleton has had various names and various routes over the years, and I don't manage to do it every year, but I do train around many parts of the course on a regular basis. I really ought to know the whole route like the 'back of my hand' (but then, how much time do YOU spend studying the back of YOUR hand!)

Anyway, I'd set off fairly steadily up the hill to checkpoint 1, worked a bit harder to 2, and got into my running on the way to 3. I know I'm not the best descender in the fellrunning world, so was quite pleased to hold my own down to 4.

The climb back up to 2 is one of my favourites, both in the race and whilst out training. I had a couple of chaps in my sights, and was gradually closing on the return after the road crossing.

And then I missed it. Head down, running hard. I knew the cut down the gully was around there somewhere - I just missed it!

Realising that the two chaps in front had also 'missed it', I shouted, and started cutting down through the bracken to rejoin the race route at the stream crossing. Of course, the pack of 15 runners behind me had also 'missed it', but not by very much. So at the stream, I'd got ahead of the two I'd shouted at (who were still fighting down through heather, bog and bracken), but 7 or 8 of those behind me scooted down the gully and got ahead! Bother!

Anyway, my legs had started to go, and I couldn't fight my way back ahead. As it was, I heard the pack approaching as we neared the finish. Local knowledge to the rescue! The chap ahead was hesitating, unsure exactly where to go. So I took advantage, and gained a place. But just in time - the results show another 8 or 9 runners in the next 10 or 15 seconds!

Results here:

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