Hold on to your hats ladies and gents, it’s going to be a bumpy ride..
Keith Rooney reports from Wednesday’s race..
As I veered to the right of the postrate pain-hunched figure, I experienced vague feelings of deja vue: been here before…..where?….That’s it….. The Clive Cookson. That had been a hairy take off too. I must admit, I’d had my doubts, as soon as I saw the runners fan out over the grass sward to our left: a fifty foot long phalanx of deadly earnestness. Yet, a glance ahead confirmed my doubts: the route entered a dense copse some fifty yards ahead, but the path was only 5 foot wide. Now I’m no big brain with maths, but fifty doesn’t go into five…. Does it? I suspected somebody’s expectations down here in sultry Silksworth, were going to be tearfully cut short.
That old sage Murray had warned us about the steep start, and, once clear of the trees, the path did indeed plunge abruptly, carrying the cascade of runners down to the floor of an idyllically wooded hollow, through which the route then proceeded to carve its circuitous, tortuous path.
I wasn’t on my own of course. The Old Shuffler – aka Graham King – had agreed, once more, to tag along for the ride, and he predictably caught me up after the first mile. But it wasn’t easy, this race, enshrined in PB folklore. The narrowness of the path: twisting, choka with runners, with plenty of bashes, bumps and bruised knees to boot…. And of course the heat. There was talk of 32 degrees, I heard, at the start. It was certainly stifling, down there in the dell, as we dashed along side the gentle brook, which meandered its leisurely way, seemingly unconcerned by the sight of such sweaty convolutions. I checked the garmin; 6.20 for the first mile. Bloody hell not bad, considering the disagreeable start. But, as I said, it wasn’t easy and maintaining that pace required no small degree of pushing, jostling and general gerrymandering. But Graham pushed me, pushed me hard. He really is the perfect running partner: unrelenting and dogged; and I do like to think we’ve developed something of a symbiosis in our running relationship of late. In fact since we started sparring off each other, we’ve never been running better. It was nip and tuck the whole way, but Graham nudged it in the end. Still, not quite sub 20, but with a new PB by 36 seconds, that 20 min mile stone is enticingly within reach.
There were other fine performances on the night, of course: Kevin ‘Cheetah’ down to 22.26 – oh! He’s got group 3 in his sights – and Sinead (Coffey), steadily grinding out the results and steadily improving; and not to mention on the sharp end, Chris Graham, who’s rise is nothing short of meteoric. But the final word has to go once again to the Old Shuffler: Graham you shuffle along at a pace which is NOT respectable for your age. I mean, where are the pipe and slippers!!!