Sunday, 16 November 2014

Borders Series XC #2: Gala

Halfway through the week the forecast for this race was dismal, however the weather gods relented and it turned out fine. There was a bit of rolling mist but not enough to get Paul McCartney singing about it. At some point there must have been a fair bit of rain as the grassy bits were sodden and easily churned. And I had almost completely forgotten how adventurous the course setters are: inviting us to partake in deadly slippery boardwalks, stiles (ditto), arduous grassy hills, 2 stream crossing (rocky and of uncertain depth) and lots of ankle deep mud. So great fun then. Making under 4 miles seem twice as far.

I had also forgotten the joys of the A7 which was quite deserted making us wonder if the sensible traffic had taken diversions to avoid a couple of the road-works along the way. 

However we got there in plenty time for a good warm up. The air was cold and I put on gloves and a buff to keep extremities warm. I took photos round the latter part of the course which Mary and I recced though planned to leave the camera at the start before the off, as there was too much potential for damage.

There were some lovely combinations of steep passages and through-the-woods running. The hills round the field perimeters were the enduring memory of last time (Nov 2011 if the records are correct.) This year the deeper mud at the second stream crossing was taxing.

We spent so long on the recce of the course we nearly missed the race start. Realising we needed to get back to the start we picked up the pace and did a few strides. Happily they had not set off and I was very well warmed up. (Buff off.) I felt the benefit of not having a long run in my legs from the previous day and managed to keep up with Charlotte for the flat stuff through the trees. Going up the grassy fields she managed to get away, by now chasing Diane for first lady. Fergus (having done the Braids yesterday) went past at some point although for a short while I was catching him again on the down hills. I was sorry to have to let him and Charlotte and Ian R (1st 50) stay a bit ahead, even though I made a bit of ground back on the descents. Then the out and back through the woods (incl very steep climb) which finished with a trip down to the second stream where a number of folk lost points for touching a hand down on the banks. Penalty was very muddy laundry or filthy hand. I managed to get across without incident but still I wasn't catching the dudes ahead and we all pretty much stayed in order until the final sprint on the slightly downhill cinder-path. Someone decades younger went past and I was beyond caring. Last time at Lauder I was 2 seconds adrift behind Mike, this week 10 seconds behind Ian. Always the bridesmaid never the bride! (Looking back to Nov 2011 my time was 24.46, this year it showed that on my watch (it was unclear exactly where the line was) but the official time was a few seconds faster so I haven't lost too much ground in 3 years.)

A very dynamic course and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Big thanks to Gala and the Borders Series - nice to do a proper xc course over mostly exciting ground.
Unusually for this time of year I have been doing a little too much work and not enough speed training and can feel my running suffer just a little. (Too many Wednesday and Thursday evenings lost to can't-be-bothered after a long day up and down ladders.) Swings and roundabouts though, and I shouldn't complain. 

Results on Borders Website

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