Long tour of Bradwell: deja vu or not
My 2011 Long tour of Bradwell executive summary is pretty much the same as 2009’s: ‘at back of field from the start, everyone I overtook dropped out, finished last (just)’.
The details were a bit different though. In 2009 I had company in the first half of the race, in the form of a bloke who went up hills even slower than me, but came flying past on every decent. I pushed hard in the 1st half, went through the midway cut-off in Bamford with 15-20 minutes to spare and caught another couple of runners (who then dropped out...). I’d overdone it however and really struggled with the 2nd half. If I’d realised I was closing on the 2nd to last runner (I never caught sight of him, but he was only 2 minutes ahead at the finish) I might have managed to move faster though...
In 2010 it clashed with the Outlaw triathlon, (and the last place finisher was a whole hour slower than my 2009 time).
My original plan for 2011 was (with the UTMB training I was going to have in my legs) to try and take half an hour off my 2009 time, and hopefully not finish last again. The time goal had long since gone out the window. And with the UTMB training camp and a mid-week 3 hour stair climbing session still in my legs I’d downgraded further to ‘take it steady, see if I can make it to the mid-way point before the cut-off time’.
With sore legs and no energy I was way off the back of the field even before the first checkpoint (after about a mile...).
Having apologised to the marshalls at the next few checkpoints for keeping them waiting, I finally caught the next to last runner (thanks to his repeated navigational snafus...). I was feeling perkier than early on, but it was clear that making the mid-way cut-off was going to be touch and go. The mile or so preceding the cut-off point was along a flatish trail and I pushed as hard as I could, but watched my watch tick past the 5 hour cut-off. I got there at 5.02, resigned to being directed back to the finish and was confused when the marshall held the ‘dibber’ box up for me to dib-in. ‘But aren’t I timed out? I’m 2 minutes late.’ ‘Oh no, we know you, you’ll just keep plodding on’ was the response.
So grateful for the reprieve I set off to try and catch the next 2 runners, who were apparently only 10 minutes ahead and not looking good. And I found them a couple of miles later, looking confused, having missed the next checkpoint. Unfortunately, like my earlier catch, they later dropped out...
After some short showers early on, the sun came out at this point and, apart from a sore calf, I was running better than 2 years ago and enjoying myself. I arrived at the final manned checkpoint just as 2 blokes were leaving, giving me hope that I could avoid winning the wooden spoon. I soon caught them and after a brief chat (which included the usual, ‘where do you come from (with that accent)?’ question) overtook. I’d been careful not to reveal I was in last place, but being overtaken by a ‘girl’ seemed to give them a second wind, and they passed and pulled away from me. I nearly caught them again at the bottom of the last climb, but despite running my fastest mile of the race through Bradwell to the finish, ended up a minute and a bit behind them. 7 minutes slower than 2009 and last again, but well inside the final 10 hour cut-off at least.