(This was how we served refreshments in the old days!)
Once again near-perfect running weather, not too hot, not too cold and no wind to speak of. Before the race there was an impeccably observed minute’s silence to commemorate Remembrance Sunday. Mike showed us that he could have had a career as a stand-up comedian, by pointing out that technically speaking, it was a downhill race, since the finish was at a lower altitude than the start (by all of 10 cm?)
Hereford Courier’s Steve Herington missed last season due to health problems, but he was back with a bang in the previous race at Fforest Fields. I was well beaten by him in that race, so if I wanted to have a chance in my age group, I had to raise the my performance. So when he passed me on the first lap in Chestnut Avenue, I stayed with him, then overtook him. However, that did not last long. He overtook me once more, so I just stayed behind him. I allowed a few yards extra going downhill from the Fort so I could see where to put my feet, but otherwise dogged his footsteps for two whole laps, matching him stride for stride and making sure I passed anyone he overtook.
Going down the muddy slope just after the Fort, Steve’s nifty footwork made me wonder if he was also a good dancer. It also made me wonder if I had spent too long tripping the light fantastic the previous night at a wedding party.
I was heartened by the encouragement from the marshals – Thanks guys & gals – as we passed by, which also served to remind Steve how close it was. More than once, I thought it might come down to who could suffer the most.
But going through the rough stuff between the pond & Chestnut Avenue on the last lap he quickly left me 15 yards behind. It took all of the climb up to the top of the Fort to get close again, only to see him stride away once again on the lower descent of the Fishponds trail.
Throughout the race we had been very closely matched going uphill or down, but as we entered Heartbreak Hill for the last time, I thought he wasn’t climbing particularly fast. I steadily eroded the 15 yard gap, overtook him on the last steep part of the Hill, then sprinted for the line. My time was 62.10, exactly the same as my course PB of 2014.