|Trying to stay on my feet as I walk to the start|
|Chatting with some real athletes|
|And they're off|
Then the serious runners started passing in the other direction. I was delighted to see that this included several of my fellow EGTC members. "Well done Richard, good running!" I shouted as he passed me by. Then another Richard went passed. "Go on Richard, keep going." I then started to worry that people around me might think I had a strange condition, (similar to Father Jack in Father Ted) that I was compelled to shout "Come on Richard!" at random strangers. Luckily I then saw Vince, Kelly, Jackie, Louise and Claire so it might have then looked like I did actually know these people.
By that time I had passed the half way point myself so decided to ease up a bit to see how far up the hill I could make it. Whilst I have run this route many times I have still never made it all the way to the highest point without stopping. With the incredibly muddy conditions it was looking unlikely I would this time. But I was still going to give it a damn good go so slowed right down. Which was when the man with the prosthetic leg went ahead of me. I'd seen him earlier and felt incredibly humbled that he was running in such treacherous conditions. But now he was ahead of me it was a different matter! The temptation was to speed up again but knowing how tough the incline was at the best of times thought I'd be able to take him on the hill. But no, when I'd reached the point where I always have to admit defeat and walk for a while this amazing man kept on going.
Anyway, after a minute I had recovered enough to run again on a section that was relatively flat before the very final incline. This part I normally can get up without stopping. But alas the gluttony of the previous week got me again and I had to walk for a few seconds again. I then managed to put in a sprint finish and cross the line in 41 minutes 28 seconds.
While I was delighted with my time, more than three and a half minutes quicker than last year, I wasn't sure how much shorter the run was with the changed route. However an EGTC legend said he measured it as being 4.16 miles compared to 4.37 miles last year and agreed that it was a great deal muddier this time round. So I now feel I can legitimately chalk that up as my first personal best of the season! Merry Christmas!