Club Championship 2/1/2016 – a personal reflection
This is the last of the trio of races around the Festive period, which starts with the 3 mile handicap on November. For the ladies the course is one lap of two fields between the drain bank and the A165 at Ganstead. For the men, the course is the same with a another four miles added; which is used for the Christmas handicap race. Unlike the previous races, there is a mass start for everyone. The weather on the day was windy and overcast with rain the air. Weeks of incessant rain had made the under foot conditions glutinous in places. This is a race that’s run the mind as well as the body, as you know when the ladies turn left on the drain bank, you have another four miles still to go.
I set off at a steady pace knowing the art of surviving this race is to keep going and maintain a steady rhythm. The large lap which is the first part of the race went OK as there is enough grass at the field margin to get some traction. This stops as you run alongside the A165 and you are forced to look ahead to see where the best line to take is. Eventually, you find yourself back at the drain bank with another four miles left. Running up to the railway line wasn’t too bad, but as we ran north towards Swine, Mick, Rob and Kelvin where pulling away. It is very difficult to change pace, when the underfoot conditions are so slippery, so you just have to keep plodding on. Swinging left towards the drain brings you to the field which has created a stir on Face book. Firstly a large drainage ditch has been dug across the path; the can be crossed by ‘walking the plank’ or jumping across it for those more athletically inclined. The soil here is more loamy but after all the rain we’d had, still very difficult; compounded by the ‘ridge and furrow’ pattern created by the farmer ploughing right up to the field boundary. You just have to pick your through as best you can. Eventually you reach the bridge across the drain and the turn for home. Conditions improve slightly, a mixture of mud, mud and mud of varying depths. You cross the drain again and can then look forward to the home stretch and a final section that just about passes for grass. By this time, Mick has pulled away but I managed to gather myself for a sprint towards the finish.
In a curious way, I quite enjoyed it and can only admire the faster runners, who can maintain such speed and stability in such conditions. The results are already out, so won’t repeat them here, suffice to say congratulations to Bev and Alec, the respective mens and ladies champions. Thanks as always to the timekeepers, photographers, marshals and the team at the clubhouse who make these races what they are.