Banbury 15

Banbury 15, 8th March 2009 Hilly, windy, cold, wet, but apart from that it wasn’t too bad. A clutch of jokers were played in the men’s race – as Ian said, “it’s my day, I feel good, and more importantly there aren’t many of us here.” His report is below…
 Name  Time  Category  Also…  Club Champ Pts
 Ben Breaker  01:46:33  SM    50
 Graham Bridges  01:51:47  MV40  Joker  2×49
 Larry Poole  01:53:23  MV60  Joker, 3rd MV60  2×48
 Katherine Bates  01:54:37  FV45    50
 Hugh Morris  01:58:37  MV50    47
 Denise Bridges  02:08:06  FV35    49
 Kate Williamson  02:09:22  FV55  1st FV55  48
 Deirbhle Mannion  02:21:46  FV45    47
 Gemma Ferrier  02:22:16  SL    46
 Jane Bishop  02:22:16  FV35    45
 Ian Keeley  02:25:37  MV50  Joker  2×46
My alarm woke me at 7.00 a.m., early to take on fuel in good time for a 10.30. start. Porridge was the order of the day, although the sky was clear and the outlook was almost spring like. Appearances, as ever, can be deceiving as the breeze was stronger than it appeared and was chillier than I first thought. However, my warm up went well. Always a good start. The aches and pains arose and subsided in their designated order, well at least subsided to within the tolerance threshold of a hardened roadrunner. Having looked around the gathering ERR clan I realised that my Joker was bursting to make an appearance. I fancied my chances of some points, although Ben rather ungraciously pointed out it was probably more to do with there being only 5 blokes on the grid. Rubbish, at that time I was confident that I could have beaten anyone else who dared to turn up. I played my Joker! The organisers of this race are very kind in telling runners where the hills will arise, I guess to give you time to prepare yourself. Sadly they don’t tell you where they will end. The correctly predicted the first hill at around 1.5 miles, but failed to say it went on for a mile. They also forgot to mention that the hills they listed were only the majors, and that they were interspersed with quite a few minors. What the heck, it was a grand day as we all set off on a pleasant  “undulating” course around North Oxfordshire”. With the breeze at our backs the initial climb was hardly noticeable and the first half of the course disappeared almost without notice. As if by magic the weather turned just as I turned back for home at around 8 miles. The breeze became a howling gale, the bright sky had disappeared and driving rain was thrashing into our faces. Hey, not a problem, I was almost disappointed I only had 7 miles to do in this exhilarating environment. Looking at my watch I was thinking that the  leaders were likely to be closing in on the finish line and would therefore miss out on this refreshing maelstrom. I bent my torso into the gusts and raced on. (Or was it trudged?) The storm didn’t last for the whole of the last seven miles, just most of it. Although I had lost sight of the last of the ERR blue shirts earlier on, I did glimpse two ahead nearing the top of a particularly  long hill. I guessed it would be Jane and Gemma, no doubt still talking and wasting energy, and so I was therefore confident I would be able to run them down in a sprint finish. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the finish came too soon. Another 5 miles and I would have caught them and then died on the line. As the sun was just setting I crossed the line to tumultuous applause from Jane, Gemma and Deirbhle and of the course the caretaker who was keen to clear the park. I was frozen and had  difficulty in getting my fingers to operate my watch. Deirbhle was doing a credible impression of a hypothermic roadrunner, and Jane and Gemma were still talking! I have no information about the detail of the results. Anecdotally I heard that Larry ran like stink and was faster than he was 5 years earlier. Ben had earlier mentioned that he wasn’t sure he would get around as he had banged his knee snow boarding. Banged his knee “my arse”. He did his usual impression of running like the wind. I gather Katherine was a bit quick, and of course Kate… again. What a star. I cannot finish without congratulating Jane, Gemma and Deirbhle who were of course newcomers to this event and equipped themselves well against fierce opposition, i.e. me. I am a firm believer in a level playing field so to speak, so the next time we run together they will be carrying sandbags to compensate for my extra pounds. Finally it is worth pointing out just how rural and agricultural the course was. The organisers had all bases covered, with medical support being provided by a vet and Equine Ambulance!