id1768-Mens Surrey XC League Match 1

Written by G Reed   

The drive there took an hour and a quarter - rugby traffic at Kingston and tricky roads at  the Collingwood end. The race on Roundshaw downs which are not the usual hilly downs but mainly grassy fields interspersed with bushy sections and groves of trees.  A walk onto the site up a just-mown slope onto a grassy field along the side of which the start went - wide for the first few hundred yards so none of that early chicane stuff where you have to stop. ok not you. me.

mild day, dull, no wind; once running felt too hot if anything but really lovely.

Advertised as 4.8 to 4.9 miles; 2 laps. all of the surface was soft but not boggy; mainly thick grass a lot and damp earth otherwise; a lot of roots in the 'woods' which were more extended groves , not dark, dense or very long tho there were a few of them. I reckoned if you didn't look - if you were hammering - trouble might result from the roots - there were a lot, but no-one reported any problems afterwards.  One short tarmac section could be avoided by running on the thick grass adjoining, which most seemed to not completely flat but nearly.

I counted the team sheet with Tukki just before the start and we were ten; so I scored; bad news.

present were James, Peter W, Michael Huntley and his mate Dave with the long dark hair, David Greenfield, Matt who kissed Tukki sweetly just before the start, Humphrey and a couple of young vests I didn't know.

Notable absentees : Bob recovering from an operation on a twisted bowel, Ant who was there in support as was Cash and both took pictures, Michael M - he had reported a reason to Matt / Tukki but I forget it except that it sounded semi-permanent, Jamie, who was said afterwards to need marital permission now he has a baby, and Andy A who had been expected.

I began near the front to try and get in a photo, so was passed by crowds for ages, until nearly everyone had passed me. I hung on to a few for much of lap one but they gradually got away on lap 2. I expected people to drop back as the race progressed but I guess they have too much on me now even when they do that.

So once the crowd had surged past, in the first few minutes, and the stragglers dribbled past in the next 5 minutes or so, I thought I was near the back . but looking round, could see no-one.

I tried to keep close to a couple of 26.2 clubbers and they were useful to force me to go as hard as I could. a chap in a tee-shirt dropped back and suddenly appeared between them and I took him soon after the start of lap 2 but something that happened before that will interest you pretty certain that I was last now, just over ten minutes in, I hear a shout 'Geoff reed' behind me . and suddenly Andy  A went past, saying 'broken down tram'. I called after him 'pace it' as I didn't want him to blow up trying to charge through the field. given relative speeds and that he passed me 11 minutes in, I estimated he started 3 or 4 minutes late; others afterwards thought he started 2 minutes late and that he had done very well in his finishing position.

After I passed the tee-shirt chap I tried to catch the nearest 26.2 chap and gradually did so. a pretty girl from the ladies race ran between points and offered encouragement including 'he's yours, take him down' as we closed to the end of the second lap. I'd got pretty close but he was running easily and sped up just a bit so that he stretched his lead from five to about 20 yards by the finish. my time was 43.26 roughly.

the tee-shirt chap finished a minute or so later. then it emerged that an 80 year old - very slow - was out there - and he duly finished about ten minutes later to widespread applause; great.

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