After a very agreeable night in a local spa hotel, complete with jacuzzi to ease those aching limbs (we blew lots of nectar points), the drive to the relay event was only 5 minutes. I’d heard the area was perfect terrain for a relay from some of the locals and they were right: it was an amazing mix of bell pits, low-vis, runnable forest and complex path networks.
Again, trying to save my legs for the few weeks training to come before the next World Cup race, I jumped at the chance to drop from the Chasers men’s premier team to the men’s short race. It also meant I’d be in with a chance of some proper head-to-head racing at the font of the pack, rather than hanging on to the back in the premier race.
I ended up wearing my prize from the individual as I couldn’t find my normal Thorlo socks, luckily the Smartwool Trail Socks were in the bottom of the bag from yesterday. Pulling them on they felt sort of cuddly, and very soft !
On the horn I was part of a huge pack of 60 or so runners, the mass start being not only Men’s Short but also M18, W40 and M60. The young guns all went off a full pace, leaving us wiley elders in their wake but we soon drew them it when the nav got a bit more interesting.
I got good start keeping towards the back of the leading packs but running my own race trying not to get distracted.
After a taped route over a road bridge crossing, we dived into the area of complex bell pits and vague contour detail. I ran clean and ended up coming out on my own having dropped the pack. I accelerated, held it together and kept ahead through the spectator control and the last few technical controls before a slog back up the hill to the finish arena. Punching the last I knew I was well up but felt great when the commentators announced me in 4th place, about 1.5 minutes down on the leader and about 20 seconds behind 3rd.
I handed over to Allan Williams whose solid run brought us up to 3rd but, unfortunately, teams tend to put their big guns out on last leg and Gaz Little couldn’t hold on so we dropped to 10th .