This a race I’ve done a few times before – always a good test of fitness before spring arrives – with a best of 1:02:48, set in 2004. The last couple of races I’d done this year I had finished strongly, so today I decided to go out as hard as I dared and hang on, just to see how fast I could go.
We were lucky with perfect conditions, just like the Gloucester 20, cool and sunny, and after a decent warm up I was ready to go. After a couple of brisk laps of the business park where I was nearly tripped up, I was caught by a familiar face – Rob Webster of OCAC – although he was running in a Woodstock Harriers vest. Although we were ticking along at 4min/km pace we had enough breath for a chat. Rob had changed to Woodstock for the road (but not track) as he couldn’t get into the strong OCAC team! We were stride-for-stride through the next km and then I let him go as I just feeling the pace a bit.
Out into the countryside I caught another Woodstock vest, Jake Harrison, who I know from Oxford Tri. We also had a bit of a breathless chat – he was home from uni. Around the 8km point I was starting to think I’d started too fast, but I was determined to try to test myself. Jake reached for a gel here and as he hesitated to open it I pulled out a small lead. Up ahead I could see Rob was dangling off the back of a bunch, and I wondered if I could reel him in. I passed a few runners and closed on him a bit, but by 11km I knew the game was up, I didn’t have much energy left.
Along the rough lane back to the finish circuit Jake caught and passed me, looking good. I got back up onto my toes for the final 1500m back to the finish but didn’t make any in-roads into his lead. He was just outsprinted to the line by Rob (a good 800m runner). I finished about 30 seconds behind them, pretty happy with my effort, half splits of 32:45/32:54. I was 115th/800, 14th M50 (quite a strong masters field here!)