Monday, 25 February 2013

The National XC championships

I used to denigrate XC. Why run around a field when you could be on the hill? I thought. But when I moved North-East I decided to have a go at it, mainly for fitness purposes. And whilst it's not the most interesting type of racing in which to compete in terms of terrain and views, the balls-out racing is a notch above that seen in all but the shortest fell races and Orienteering relays. In my opinion.

With The National being held as close to my doorstep as it's likely to get, I leapt at the chance to run at Herrington Park in Sunderland. Unfortunately no-one else from Billingham Marsh House was much interested, saving themselves for a 10-miler the next day as part of marathon prep. As it was I headed up with Andy ('The Rev') from Hartlepool Burn Road, and we were made welcome refugees in the Middlesbrough and Cleveland club tent (next to the Highgate rave tent). It's a good job the Teesside running community is so close-knit and welcoming!

Sunderland was about as exciting as I expected, although I did nearly wet myself when overhearing someone on the bus discussing someone's 'pasty getting smashed'.

Smash this pasty?
Anyway, there'd been snow overnight and after 6 months of rain and 9 previous races, by the time 1100 men lined up for the senior race the course was a quagmire. By the second and third laps, it was like the Somme.
Once more unto the breech! (Athletics Weekly)
I didn't take it much seriously. I was very high up at the start, saying hello to the likes of Carl Bell, Harold Wyber and Tom Edwards (all finishing way ahead of me). On the second lap I got talking to someone I vaguely knew from University, before he moved on forward.
What do you mean I'm too dirty to sit down? (Dave Aspin)
I spent most of the time being passed. In fact I don't remember passing anyone until into the last km or so, but I must have done at some point. Tom Bush (Altringham) had come past me at the top of the last hill and pulled about 30m out on me. I'd kept going throughout the race, but not balls-out, and had energy reserves for an effort in the last 800m or so. I like to finish strongly as mentally it makes you feel like you've had a good race. I passed a lot of people on the last bend and finishing straight (including Tom) and held them off for 233rd (not including a few people who will have lost their tag in the gloop!)

Winding Up (Dave Aspin)
My run felt solid but ordinary. I'm quite pleased with the result. I'd wanted to do well, but was mainly using this as a training run and measuring tool. As for the raw figures - about 3mins down on Carl Bell and Midd&Cleve's Greg Jay, 90secs down on the likes of Harold Wyber, Tom Edwards and Duncan Coombs, and 120% of winner Keith Gerrard's time. Pleased with that.

Next up - Black Coombe and some Orienteering at the weekend, then Sedbergh 3 Peaks next Tuesday.

A few maps now that I need to host:
Slaley Forest CSC Qualifier. Navigated to the wrong control, loosing 8mins and lost it a bit after that. Still, the team qualified!

CLOK event on Eston Moor. The day after The National I wasn't really functioning properly so just bimbled around somewhat.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

One area, Two very different races

The New (i.e. amalgamation) and Exciting (i.e. organised as such the best elites probably won't make enough counting races) UK Orienteering League kicked off this weekend with an excellent double header in Sheffield. Tankersley and Hesley woods to the North of the city proved suitably challenging and intricate for the British Night Orienteering Championships on Saturday evening, and a testing middle distance race on Sunday.


The less said about the Night Champs the better. My performance matched City's at Southampton. A lot of big mistakes and major time loss saw me run 140% of the winners time. Suffice to say I didn't adapt very well to the whole reduced vision element of running at night on such a tricky area.

After moping about for a couple of hours I was cured by Chicken Chow Mein, Icy Lemon Fanta and a couple of pints of Farmer's Blonde. 
Sunday arrived with a dusting of damp snow and a renewed confidence in my running an navigating ability. In the middle distance (lots of short legs, fine nav and direction change; winning time of 30-35mins). I still made 4 mistakes, totalling 2-3mins, but at times I actually felt like I was racing, a feeling I have seldom got when orienteering - outside of relays/mass-start events. 114% of the winner's time, very good by my standards!

After a month of feeling pretty stale (maybe due to a lack of racing) I'm feeling ready to get back on the horse!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Robin Hood

Not much going on at the moment. Had a few easier weeks after the heavy miles at the back end of 2012/Jan 2013, including my first stag do (why are people making me feel old!). I'm not racing much on the fells at the moment, just hoping to train well. I've got a lot of Orienteering lined up over the next 2 months, trying to ready myself for the big spring races.
Yesterday I ran at the Midland Champs at Sherwood Forest. I was a bit tired so couldn't get the legs turning over, but the nav was generally good and at a higher standard than last year -although this may have been due to not running very quickly!

Next weekend id the British Night Champs on Tankersley, Sheffield. I'm really looking forward to this, although it'll be very technical and there's plenty of scope for an epic to occur!

Well, that was boring. I really just wanted to host my quickroute somewhere...