Strider’s present: 3; Mel Hudson, Will Horsley and John Greathead. Conditions: Wet, muddy, warm, overgrown, lots of stings and scratches and mouthfuls of flies. Feel: Friendly but competitive, small number of participants. Plenty of anticipation building up at start due to the handicap system so later runners can see those who start ahead and know who they have to chase as well as seeing who is left and knowing who will chase them. I set-off on the maximum handicap at about 7:30pm with two other runners both from the organising club. I managed to pull out a small lead over them which I extended a little bit over the course. I have done this race two or three times before both winter and summer and usually start picking off the back markers in Bishop Middleham at about 3 miles.
Not this time. Didn’t start overtaking until the home straight at about 4 miles and never caught my fellow Striders. I did manage to hold off the two lads who started with me. I was convinced they were right behind me all the way and this meant I worked harder than I had really wanted to but at the line I had a comfortable margin. I duly secured the fastest time on the night and a bottle of wine. Still two minutes slower than when I did the race in January in absolutely freezing conditions. I was not surprised to be slower due to general lack of running and racing, but also because the ground was incredibly boggy and slippery in several places. I don’t mind this, being a fell runner at heart and I reckon it slowed my rivals down more than it did me. Mel was ahead of her handicap time, a great effort especially considering she did the Clamber the night before. John must have been pretty much spot on his handicap, also a good effort in the sludge, whereas I was about two minutes over but I got a bottle of wine. For a free race there were surprisingly few Striders present, but I guess that’s the Clamber effect. Sedgefield were also right down on numbers as it clashed with a local party for one of their soon to be departing members – I would have thought a friendly club handicap race would have been the perfect send-off.
Looking forward to the next Winter edition. Also, Sedgefield Serpentine race on 9th Sept, not free though.