Numerous contestants arrived in Telford, some in Tory blue to launch a manifesto, some in sky blue to scale the Wrekin (three times). Some knew the going would be sticky and even slippery, some merely slipped up unnecessarily (viz, Telford A&E), but it was a cold, misty day and as the runners assembled at the start, we could have been forgiven for thinking: ‘Let’s get this done’. Eric was the brave debutant, while Tim and Flora were experienced second timers. Gary G and Guy fell into the category of those who haven’t learnt from experience.
The start is along a narow undulating track, where you can scarcely see where you’re putting your feet – puddle, rock or loose leaves. Then it’s a long steady climb up to the ridge, fast descent to the glen where you’re suddenly into panic mode as your feet go from under you and you hope to grab a passing branch or tree trunk. From the bottom you follow a splashy wet path round the south base of the Wrekin, until confronted by a straight-up clamber to the top. Here the sheep get sorted out from the goats! As we emerged at the top, still in mist, we had to change gear for the fast descent down the ridge to the next side path which slalomed narrowly around till we were once again steered onto an uphill climb, which, even if not steep, was at this stage of the race demanding enough. At the top, straight over the ridge onto a narrow, winding path leading us back up to the summit. From there it was ‘plain sailing’: fast downhill over loose stone, till we picked up the path we had started on, but a mile or so from the finish. That last mile of switchback is the killer! After 731m of climb, and a total of nearly 13km, those sharp little ascents really test you. And once again, as last year, it was here that Tim overhauled me, his long legs giving him a minute’s advantage by the end.
Tim J – 83rd in 1.34.25
Guy – 90th in 1.35.31
Eric – 93rd in 1.36.26
Gary G – 114th in 1.46.03
Flora – 123rd in 1.51.03
137 started the race, with three dropping out (though one protested [s]he hadn’t actually given up)