The first race of 2008 (Bushy Park Time Trials don't count) and my first shot at a G3 race organised by Toby Jenkins from All About Triathlons. The G3 races aren't your regular 10k running race as they involve sand, grass, mud and around 250m of climbing. If you're contemplating entering either of the two remaining races I'd recommend you invest in either a set of fell running shoes (with pyramid soles) or cross country spikes. I opted for the spikes.
Closer inspection of the start / finish line loaned to Toby by John Lunt showed that any sprint finishes would require me to duck. The ASICs sponsored banner was little more than 6ft off the ground. The start was a fairly low key affair with a quick 3-2-1 resulting in the off for 350 hardy runners. I was careful not to start too hard and the 1st mile reminded me of those cold inter school cross country races I'd tackled as an asthmatic teenager. I steamed past my dad who was marshalling and I wondered if he was thinking back to the 1979 Hambledon Fell race where he'd gone off way too fast with the leaders only to fade badly for the remainder of the race. The only photograph to make the paper had him in shot, just before he passed mum and me.
The first major downhill of the race was straight down a very steep, slippery grass field and I can honestly say I was totally in the hands of my trusty spikes. The shorter chap who was leading must have been equally out of control as I wasn't gaining on him. Then we started the big climb to St Martha's church. Not only was this a deep sandy climb, but it was also bloody steep. I was relieved to get over the top in 2nd and I could still see the leader. It was pretty much up and down through the woods from there on in and I lost my grip on 2nd place to another shorter (ok I was probably the tallest runner anyway) chap who can't have weighed more than about 9 stone. He was putting in 20m into me every time we went down and I was now realising why I didn't like the spikes. They're too small!! My big toes were starting to hurt like hell but I don't think it slowed me down much. The course then started to head for home and I noted we'd gone through 5km in 20mins 10seconds. Surely we were on for a decent time considering last year the race was won in 44mins. I kept pace with the short skinny chap and was reeling him in on the long climb back up to St Marthas church. In the back of my mind I was contented with 3rd place as I knew there would be a prize for this. Then another short skinny Serpentine RC chap ran past us both looking like he'd paced the whole thing beautifully. I was dying as was went over the summit and thought back to the Southern Cross Country champs in 2005 (the last time I did an off road running race) when I'd faded in the later stages. Must be a strength thing, give me a flat road to run on and I'd take em all on.
The final fast descent was agony for my poor blackened big toes and rather strangely I was looking forward to the final 1km climb to the finish line. I didn't feel strong and I coudn't reel in the chap in 3rd place so I had to settle for 4th place. I finished 43mins 22seconds which was less than 2 mins behind the winner but 1 min ahead of the 2007 winning time. Frustrating that they moved the goal posts. I had thought that a sub 44 min run would win it.
Thames Turbo Sigma Sport team members Liz Pinches and Helen Smith finished in 4th and 5th place in the ladies race and John Taylor, Mark Cobb and Marcus Allon completed the list of Turbos who taken part.
Results can be found at http://www.allabouttriathlons.co.uk/data/results/results_g3_jan08.pdf
1. James Walker 41.36
4. Roger Barr 43.22
38. Liz Pinches 52.50(4th Lady)
68. Helen Smith 55.48 (5th Lady)
82. John Taylor 57.22
89. Mark Cobb 58.37
193. Marcus Allon 1.07.25