Race report: Boxing Day run (4.16 miles/6.7km)

So amidst the festivities and overindulgence of the last week was the small matter of the Boxing Day run. However, as I have mentioned previously, this was the second year running I've taken part in the event so had a time of 45 minutes to beat. Since last year's race there had been a change in land ownership meaning a slight change in route, so in the interests of transparency I have it on good authority that it was 0.21 miles/330 metres shorter. However the incessant rain over the last couple of weeks meant that the route was incredibly slippery and a lot more of a quagmire than normal.

Trying to stay on my feet as I walk to the start
Luckily the rain held off for the actual run which meant that Toddler Trihard and grandparents Trihard were happy to accompany me to the start. However after slipping and sliding along the fields to the start of the race I think they may have begun to regret their decision. When I mentioned we'd then be running cross country so there wasn't really a decent fixed spot to spectate for the duration of the race Granny Trihard then asked, with fear in her eyes and a tremble in her voice, "Does this mean we have to run along with you?!"

Chatting with some real athletes
 I assured her this wasn't the case and that I was content for them to just see me off. However I hope Mrs Trihard notes the dedication my mummy was prepared to put in to watch me run.The fact that there was an exceptionally good turn out from EGTC meant that there was plenty of support during the race anyway.

And they're off
So at 11am on Boxing Day morning we set off. Being an out and back course - out to a certain point and back again a few dips aside the majority of the route is downhill at the start, a flat in the middle and a gruelling uphill finish.

I was therefore trying extremely hard to pace myself so that I had enough left in the tank to get up the final hills. However by the time I'd made it on to the flat middle section of the course I was wondering if I had over exerted myself.

While I was relatively restrained on Christmas day, with just a few glasses of wine with lunch, I have to say the excesses of the holiday season did feel like they were catching up with me.

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!


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