It is always pleasing to feel that you have made progress; more so when the data tells you so. That was just one of the things that I thought about after the last in the series of Curley’s Fishery Trail Races.
I went into the race with a clear plan: to run as hard as I could. This always presents a physical challenge, but on this course with its downhill, wet and uneven mixture of cobbles and potholes it’s a matter of concentrating hard too.
At the top of the first climb I felt like I couldn’t have worked any harder. I had settled into twelfth place and could already feel the lactic build up in my shoulders. From the top it’s an undulating section of road and I promised myself that I’d get to the gate which marks the entrance to the woods without anyone passing. I managed to keep this promise and felt like I couldn’t have pushed any harder.
The downhill sections through the woods are the places where, in previous races, I’ve been caught as I ponderously take my time over the rocks and tree roots. I knew that I had a number of good descenders on my heels but the drier and more secure conditions underfoot meant that I felt more confident on such tricky paths. I was caught by Paul and Marcus, two Burnden teammates. There’s no shame in this as they are both superb runners, particularly off road. But that was it. In previous races I’d have been overtaken eight or nine times; but here I made a conscious effort to run as hard as I could wherever I could. And it paid off.
The last section of the race sees the runners back on the uneven road section towards the start. This time it’s back uphill. With a huge effort I managed to catch and pass the runner in front to take fourteenth place overall and second V40. My time of 21:14 was my fastest of the three race series and a pleasing way to end this brilliant series of demanding spring trail races.