After a bit of indecision, Christine finally decided that she wouldn’t run on the Saturday of the British Orienteering Champs due to a calf injury but we would all go up to Cannock Chase for the weekend and she would still run in the relay. This meant I could move my individual start to a late time and we could drive up to Rugeley on the Saturday morning rather than having to stay up on the Friday night. This probably meant we missed the worst of the bank holiday traffic and we actually had a very smooth journey arriving in pleny of time.
Last time I ran at Abraham’s Valley and Wolseley Park it was on M21 Elite at the JK. Given that my overall fitness has headed in just one direction in the intervening years I had made the sensible decision to run M21 Long this time round. Ed Catmur started on the Elite course at the same time as me and, as they had a similar loop with some common controls to start with, he provided a good incentive to run hard from the start. Unfortunately he disappeared from sight on the way to my fifth control and two controls later I became really unstuck. It took two attempts from different attack points to eventually locate the correct re-entrant in the middle of all of the greenery at number seven wasting me around three minutes. (See RouteGadget for the gory detail.) Judging by the splits, I wasn’t the only one to have trouble here. In particular, Geoff Ellis lost over seven minutes here sinking his chances of a win.
From this point onwards I was on my own but was enjoying myself running through some undulating but generally runnable terrain. I even managed not to make any great blunders when it came to the ‘technical’ quarry section. Even so, I was pretty shocked when I looked at my splits printout at the finish and it showed that I was in first place. I was well aware, however, that James Williams had the last start time on my course and was more than capable of beating my time. I met him coming out of the download tent just as the prize giving started…
He had beaten me by 24 seconds. It was a shame as a) it was my birthday and b) it is the last year that I will run in the 21 age class. However, I came in to the race simply expecting to be somewhere in the top 5 and had by no means had a clean run so I was happy enough to take second place on the podium and collect my BOC 2010 water bottle. (No medals for M21L as we’re a self-selecting bunch who aren’t prepared to run the Elite!) After a slice of birthday cake out the back of the car we retired to the delights of Stafford Holiday Inn Express and the attached pub.
The next day we returned to the same venue for the relays. The weather had taken a turn for the worse but thankfully the rain never really came to anything. Christine had been moved up in to SOC’s first team on Women’s Short as her calf wasn’t as bad as someone elses! Tamsin Moran came in third and Christine managed to hold on to sixth place. Jane Morgan then pulled them up to an impressive second place. Duncan consequently managed a second trip up on to the podium to collect another water bottle (and a medal this time – where’s the justice there?!).
I went out in penultimate position on second leg of Men’s Premiere. Hard to push yourself knowing that your third leg runner intends to walk round but I managed to reel in a few runners on a fairly clean run and come a respectable 10th place on my leg.
We had another smooth journey back home to round off what was a fun and successful birthday weekend.