Weather seemed okay. It had been raining overnight but had cleared by the morning. The temperature was around 11 degrees so all was well.
I got to the race about an hour early. After a cup of coffee, and a short warm-up with a few strides, it was time to start racing. I was standing in the second row and got a pretty good start and quickly joined the lead group. We stuck together as we did a section around the showground before exiting onto the main road. The first mile passed in 5:06 so that was way too quick and I panicked a little and let the group get away from me to leave me in 4th place.
The course itself was 2 laps so you got a good feel for the course on the first lap. The start of the lap was fairly flat, then there was a downhill section before a long gradual climb back up to the showground.
The second mile passed with me running solo in 4th place in a split of 5:15. Again too quick. I was then joined by 2 other runners who must have started conservatively and was quickly overtaken by both of them to leave me in 6th place. So I was back running by myself and the miles ticked by with splits of 5:34, 5:19 (downhill) and 5:25 (target pace). So 26:39 at the 5 mile marker. I should mention that there was a fair bit of wind on the course. The flat/downhill section seemed to be into a very stiff breeze, with the benefit of the wind on the uphill section. Not ideal for racing.
The long climb into the showground was a really tough drag. My mile split was 5:31 but it felt a good bit slower. Then we had to do a few loops through the showground running on mainly path but with a section on the grass for about 100m. I was glad to get back onto the road and whilst one of the runners who had overtaken me was a good way in the distance, I seemed to be closing in on the 5th placer runner.
The 7th mile was passed with another 5:31 mile so I was slowing a little. Sure enough I caught the 5th place runner and went in front and the runner behind me seized the opportunity to stick to me like glue leaving me doing all the work into the wind. I must have tried at least half a dozen surges to drop him but couldn't shake him off.
Miles 8,9 and 10 passed in 5:31, 5:34 and 5:26 and my shadow was still there. He was running so close he clipped my heels a few times which was frustrating but that's racing. The time on the clock at 10 miles was 54:12 so that was bang on target despite starting the race too quick.
Mile 11 was the dowhnill section and despite a really quick surge for about 200m I still couldn't drop the runner behind me. The split was 5:23 but felt a lot quicker - I still felt strong but lacked a bit of speed in the legs.
The 12th mile was the long drag back to the showground. A very tough section and I think I subconsciously slowed a little to save myself for a quick last mile. The mile split was the slowest of the race in 5:44. Time to press for home.
To my surprise after only lifting the pace a little, I had finally dropped the runner behind me. I continued to surge on for what felt like 3 minutes but was probably only half that time. The last section was twists and turns and lapping the slower runners. I was really struggling with half a mile to go but managed to keep it going to cross the line in 5th place in 1:11:15 (the last 1.1 miles covered in 5:56). The clock under the finish line was 20 seconds fast so initially I thought I had broken 71 minutes only for that joy to be short-lived after I looked at my own watch!
So very happy with the race and time. That's a 39 second PB on a challenging course with a tough wind to deal with. The winner ran 1:08:23 and the second place runner ran 1:09:02. Apparently the second place guy had run 65 minutes at the Bath half the previous week so that goes to show how tough the course was. The runner I had a duel with had run 67 before so that was a good scalp.
I finished up with a short warm-down. All up 23.1km for the day.
Total 75.3kms for the week.