My strategy of training in the woods midweek, and looking out obscure weekend village races paid off on Saturday. I found myself in leafy Warwickshire on Saturday morning following work commitments the previous day. Having bargained hard for a complimentary 2 hour spell of Wi-Fi at the hotel the previous evening, I googled the race calendar and located the Tysoe Windmill multi-terrain 10k. Tysoe is a tidy Midlands village, snuggled up between Banbury and Stratford upon Avon. Complete with thatched roofs and sculptured lawns.
The race involved an out-an-back course that took in Windmill Hill and stretches of road, farmers fields, woods and farms tracks. I had banged out 9 miles on Thursday and a steady but hot 7 miles on the Friday night around Nuneaton, so I was keen, but not rested as I arrived on the Saturday morning in bright sunshine to the village green. The sky was a deep blue and the foliage heavy and lush green.
I parked up beside the tennis court and watched the cars trickle in. There seemed plenty of villagers walking to the little marquee, set up as registration. A raven sauntered along the grass, listening for worms, oblivious to the villages annual sporting highlight.
I signed up and had some banter with an older gent who talked me around the course. There seemed more marshalls than competitors as the 10 a.m. start beckoned. I warmed up around the green and soon there were a handful of like-minded folk doing the same thing. At ten, around forty of us were off and I settled in, a little way back from the front runners.
After about a kilometre, I had moved up to 4th and the course veered left through a kissing gate and up through a field to the windmill. It was heavy going, but passing two, I could see the front runner coming back and, at the top of the hill, I caught him as he broke into a walk. A real give-away. I carried on over the ridge and through some trees and fired on down the hill. I lengthened my stride and just put my head down.
After a further mile after a long road stretch, before coming off onto a farmers track, I felt some anxiety about being caught and told myself 2nd or 3rd would be fine... very respectable, even. I hadn't even won it and I was worrying about it.
I was waved on by a few marshalls and then began the ascent back up the backside of Windmill Hill. As I came through the kissing gate I listened keenly to hear the 'clank' behind me from the next runner but it never came. After stopping to check the route with a marshall, I made it back to the village and took top honours crossing the line in 45.20 stretching my spindly arms out like I had just won the Olympics. It ended up 6.5 miles in length with 500ft of ascent.
Celebrated with a cup cake and tea. If there was a race that justified getting my new Salomons dirty, then this result went along way to satisfying the criteria. I may retire now, and write my memoirs....
Alwinton fell race on Saturday. Chance of more medals. Hope there's a good crowd there.