7:30pm, Wednesday 15 July 2009
It was a sultry July evening as we wound up the drive to Waddesdon Manor retelling now legendary stories about those who have famously blown up on ‘The Hill’ to Matthew Marks, pointing out spots where remains of those runners can still be seen.
On arrival, we continued to warn the other Waddesdon virgins, “don’t go too fast down, because you’ve got to come back up... and THEN go round the house”, so when the Waddesdon 5k started, and the field sprinted away at mad speed, those of us who’d suffered before, hung back trying to limit any early damage whist still trying to stay vaguely in touch. This included myself but behind me being even more cautious was Katherine.
At the 1k marker, I’d managed to join Kate, but when I looked at my watch 03:55min, “We are going to pay for this”, I commented, but further down the road, I could see Anne and Jackie still speeding away, Wiley Fox Katherine? Still behind.
At 2k, the road started to flatten out and this is the point where your legs and lungs start to tell you, you might have gone too soon, but the leaders were coming back up, so I used the opportunity to distract myself and cheer on Robert, who was about 6th, Graham and Kev. (Did anyone see Ben Breaker run back up? No, me neither! Ben are you sure you ran all the way down?)
At the turning point, I was pulling in Anne, her early pace starting to tell and I passed her around 3k. The hill started to climb, the other Eynsham runners were shouting encouragement as they continued down, but I could only manage a wave as I tried to keep it going as the hill got steeper.
Up ahead, I could see Ben C, could I catch him? He disappeared into a cloud of smoke...everytime we do this race, the groundsmen are always having a bonfire by the side of the course, why? it’s hard enough without a lungful of smoke. Anyway, rant over, as Ben and I got through the smokey bit, our positions had changed and we gave each other comedy “How did that happen?” glances as we continued up the slope.
My next target was Jackie, but she was way ahead and there was this heavy breathing getting closer and louder. My subconscious had worked it out already and a quick glance confirmed, it was Katherine. She steamed passed me like I was standing still, her more cautious start now paying dividends, but I still had work to do, I could see a Vale of Aylesbury runner struggling in front of me and I remembered we were strong contenders for the ladies team prize...and then she stopped running and started to walk! I sped passed, she might start again!
By this time, I’d reached the front of the house, Jackie was actually not that far away, could I catch her? probably not. We ran round the side of the house, she was gaining on some guy, but I was catching both of them. As we got to the front again, Jackie got passed him, but I overtook them both just before the corner, it was then a panic sprint up to the line as Jackie doesn’t give in that easy and she finished only 4 seconds behind me.
So three ladies in, just one more to go for the team and then Kate and Anne could be seen battling it out to the line with Anne beating Kate by 2 seconds. Was this enough for our team prize? More encouragement was given as the runners streamed in and the funniest thing of the night was Natalie laid out on the floor, not talking, (yes you read that right). Eventually, she sat up and said “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I couldn’t breathe!”, to which the response was, “Now you know how Linda feels when you’re both running up hills, and she's struggling to keep up and you’re giving a running commentary!”
So onto the prize giving, it was a bit of a role of honour for Aylesbury to be honest who cleaned up most of the prizes, but there was Eynsham success as well:
· Matthew Marks 1st MU20
· Katherine 1st FV45
· Kate 1st FV50
· Larry 1st MV60
· Two PB’s for Katerine and Elaine, well done to them
· The biggest turn-out from any club there with 32 of us taking part, Yay us!
· Once again Eynsham took over the ladies toilets and turned it into their changing room, good pincer movement girls.
Did we get the Ladies Team prize? Well it depends how you work the results out. If you base it on the first four finishers, yes, morally we won. Unfortunately, the organisers used the “adding up finishing positions, and lowest score wins” method, so no we didn’t.