This years BOC was held in Wharncliffe and Greno Forest to the north of Sheffield, not an area I know well, it being 20 years since I last ran on it. After the week of pain after running M35 Long at the JK in Northern Ireland I had changed courses for the British Champs to M35 Short. Trying to run for 90 minutes in tough terrain on just one 20 minute run a week was just not possible, every joint and muscle hurting afterwards. That said, looking at the start lists I was a little worried I would look like a pot hunter. That’s the trouble with classic distance races at this level, if you don’t train its just an achievement to get round and I can’t afford to have a week off the bike with sore legs at this point in the season.
So M35 Short it was, but still it was pretty much as long and hard as the average brown course at a local event at 7.3km with 260m climb.
I started badly, trying to go straight through an area of scattered trees which was horrendous, reducing me to a walk. I nailed the next 8 controls until a small wobble at 11 where I was distracted and visited another control on the way in. The long leg on the course was next and after being forced to finally stop for a wee, I opted for the fast long path route round. Having chosen it, I put the hammer down to make the most of the running and did a lot of planning ahead. I had a couple of lucky breaks with 13 and 14 but I was being very cautious, even taking bearings, before fluffing 40 seconds or so on 16, a tiny pit which I was within 5 metres of the first time and didn’t see. My biggest mistake came at 18 as I was expecting it to be half way down a small re-entrant when in fact if I had just turned round I would have seen it on top in plain view. As always sometimes you just need to get your head up look around. It was then just a slog to the finish, more undergrowth and climb. I crossed the line a minute or so after Cath, and Chris P in the commentary van confirmed we were both leading – husband and wife M/W35S British Champs winners, that will be something local papers to get their headline writing skills into!
I did win by a fairly embarrassing margin, but looking at it again it is a real milestone following my injuries of the mid noughties, where my long term aim had been to be able to walk around a green course. I even won a pair of Smart Wool Socks for my efforts. https://www.smartwool.com