OUOC were blessed with a fantastic bright autumn day for their Oxford City Race on Saturday. Three hundred competitors converged on University Parks for what was to be an exciting day’s racing. We both had late starts so were able to soak up the atmosphere and hear the stories from early runners. One thing was certain – care was needed when navigating Wadham not to end up in the college kitchens!
My strategy for the race was simply not to run anywhere until I knew where I was going. In sprint races it always seems to be the case that the planner is trying to catch you out in some dead-end on what would otherwise appear to be the most direct route. As a consequence, on a number of occasions I came to a grinding halt, stopping for up to 30 seconds in order to be sure that the route I was about to embark on was sound.
Generally this seemed to pay off although it was very frustrating when you would run away from another competitor only for them to catch you again when stopped. Wadham was successfully navigated and probably my only real error was in the newly developed area around Oxford Castle. Perhaps this just goes to show that elsewhere local knowledge did help. It’s certainly useful to be able to identify an attack point on the map as a known landmark and then just run to it. Sadly I had to put all my energy in to running hard so planning ahead generally wasn’t an option.
Towards the end of the race I was certainly tiring both physically and mentally. (Having collided heavily with Duncan as I left Trinity and he entered, my nose was also running heavily which was a bit disconcerting!) For the last few controls in the engineering area I took the slightly longer routes around rather than try and get my head around the out of bounds detail. From there it was just an all out sprint back in to the University Parks.
Having worn my GPS around, the track shows a mass of loops around the streets of Oxford. Most interesting though was the total distance – around 9.6km some half as much again as the measured straight line length for the course. The provisional results have me in fifth place. For a flavour of the race, take a look at Simon Errington’s video on YouTube.