The Vale Gallop

Posted: February 2, 2016 in Running
Tags: , , , , ,


It’s time to start running again after the winter layoff and where better to start than a hilly, off road 10k. I’ve done this race before but this year they had reversed the course. The start is in a field at the top of a hill with a cruel cold wind whipping across it. Warming up consisted of curling my hands around a cup of tea whilst chatting to friends. The PA kept announcing the minutes until the start be no one showed that much enthusiasm to assemble until the very last moment

Vale 2

Long grass and soft going can age a man…

The start happened very quickly, a short count down and we were off across the field and a reasonable trot, a little too fast for my liking. The first hill slowed things down and sorted things out. The fast boys disappeared up the field whilst the rest of us slogged our way over the thick grass.

The first part of the course was a 2k loop that brought us back to the entrance of the field. I remember doing this bit last year after slogging up a long hill. Having it at the beginning was so much better. None of that hearing the finish and wondering how much more pain to go through. A few club mates passed me, they always do at this point in a race. I rarely see them again until the end. Up ahead Dave slowed to an almost walk. I wondered what was wrong. He picked up his pace before I could catch him, whatever it was it can’t have been important.

Next was a long down hill on tarmac. I’m not that fond of running down hill. I can no longer do that almost out of control careering that nearly every child knows instinctively how to do. I think I lost the ability when I lost the immortality of childhood. I fear for my feet on slopes like this. The tapping of my heals on the tarmac makes me think of past injuries. It’s not a nice feeling. I was glad to reach the soft path at the bottom of the hill.

She passed me as we were going downhill, I passed her going uphill, and so it went on for the next few kilometers. She looked very athletic and she was racing, she was racing me, I could tell. When she was in front she would check where I was. When I passed her she would put a little extra effort in and try to stay with my uphill pace. Eventually she pulled out a 10 meter gap. It slowly grew. We both knew it was an uphill finish and going on the race to date that is where I could make up the distance. She turned onto the rise and looked behind. I wasn’t sure, I didn’t attack the hill, I tried to reel her in slowly. She increased the pace, so did I. We could hear the shouts from the finish, it was close. I was reeling her in but the finish was getting closer. I ran out of race two meters behind her. Beaten by a worthy adversary.

Vale 3

The finish, in a muddy field


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