JK Classic WRE at Keldy
It had been a long time since I had run a good classic race, mostly due to poor endurance and lack of real base training the last couple of years, so I didn't have very high expectations for myself for this long, grueling race. The start order for the classic was the reverse of the middle race's results, so I was starting 12th, with the few people I had beaten in front of me. At the very least, I set as a goal to be in the lead when I finished, with a dream goal of actually opening the finish in H21E, which seemed pretty far-fetched with the 3-minute start interval.
The terrain was pretty rough and green, with a dense ride and trail network, but the catch that most of the rides turned into marshes and were hard to run on. Basically, the course was a physical fight for the first 9km or so and then, when you were totally worn out and dead, you got to the fast, technical last several km. Cruel, but fun.
I felt strong right from the start, much better than the day before and, after a bobble on 1 (a short control right from the start into a maze of ditches), was careful and clean on 2, 3, and 4 and was happy to catch and pass my 3-minute guy. After a long uphill slog 5, I spotted and passed my 6-minute guy going to 7 and stayed with him through the technical bit of 7,8,9. Coming into 10 (one of several controls on a small ditch in the middle of the green), I saw the 9-minute guy, and he stayed with me for a long time. Was still pushing hard and feeling good through the other long legs in the green but slowed down and hesitated a bit on the short legs in the "white" woods from 13-17, passing the 15-minute guy and the 21-minute guy. Then came the fast, technical area, and my stomach started hurting like crazy. I had to stop for a minute or so going to 20, letting the 9-minute guy catch up again, and lost concentration, losing another 2 minutes on #20, which was a stone pile on a plain hillside. After bobbling 21 a bit, I slowed down, forced myself to focuse and ran pretty well the rest of the way, though was extremely tired and barely jogging on the last few hills - a common story reported by most of this race's survivors. And, indeed, cheered by Kat on the run-in, I was happy to learn that I was the first H21E to finish. Then it was time to watch my result slip down the leaderboard as faster and faster people came in. I ended up 22nd, very satisfied with my race, and in 29th overall for the weekend, fulfilling the goal of top 30 and beating a few people I had never before thought possible for me to beat.
Hammer impressed again, with another excellent run - good for 16th on the day, I think.
I will try to put up my maps later today, but Graham Gristwood (who won each of the days) has all of them, along with very interesting commentary, up on http://www.grahamgristwood.co.uk