Another weekday, another trip to run someone else's mid-week race. This time it was the Elmton Chase, a five mile extravaganza around the fields and lanes of the cosy village of Elmton nestling just east of Chesterfield.
Organized by Clowne Road Runners (dot org), the registration was in the local pub and we had the luxury of using the pub's 'facilities'; Tres clean with nice beige glazed tiles, deep square belfast sinks and crisp basin mixer taps in a stylish, modern chrome, featuring a sleek, square body, complemented by a matching square handle. Very 'of the now'. Anyway, enough of the taps.
I'd rolled up early and had had an hours kip in the car. It was humid and there was a slow but steady trickle of competitors. The numbers, however, added up, in all, to around eighty at the start line. It didn't take much working out that the red and white vested Clowne club were going to sweep up the team prize unless the local Killamarsh club, clad in contrasting flourescent green could pull something out of the hat.
I felt sluggish at the start as I fell in to around 12th place as the race made its way down the high street, past the church and then onto a variety of narrow tracks. There were around six red Clownes in the top ten at that point.
It took a good three or five minutes to get my breathing sorted out and then I began making progress passing two Clownes together with a small band of three runners just ahead at twelve seconds or so. The ground was firm but the route was undulating, cutting down the side of fields planted with wheat and barley, the red poppies adding a bit of colour to the well watered plant life.
The little posse soon broke up ahead as the course led to a gentle steady downhill section . I convinced myself that the runner ahead, another Clowne, was struggling, so tried to catch him. He had a big stride but was definitely slowing. I then moved onto the next runner. He was wearing blue and grey quadrants (South Yorks Police) and I didn't recognise the vest. He had a nice steady gait and didn't look like he was working too hard: unlike me. It took most of the rest of the race to catch him up and when I did, I sat in behind him along a long uphill drag on the road and then back through some fields. I think it was a stile that temporarily interrupted things and created a small but useful gap between us. I caught up again but we were then close to the finish and he kicked as we re-entered the village. I didn't have any mojo left and was left to follow him in 3 seconds behind in eighth place (29:19). A few words at the end with a couple of lads and by then the rain was a steady drizzle. I grabbed a cup of water and headed off to the car. Nice run and well marshaled....Already planning next week's race to the sun in another far off place.