Long Mynd Valleys Race 7/2/10

212 people took part in this years 24th running of the Long Mynd Valleys Race . It was my second time and I was hoping to beat last years time . The weather this year was much better than last and I had "M" along to pace me , so, there was a chance I could do it .

I knew from last years experience and a recce I did a week earlier we would have to save as much energy as we could for the last third of the race . That's were the three steepest highest hills are . That being said , there was still a matter of the first two thirds 8+miles . Which has four hard climbs and a 2+mile slog across the top . Added to that there were some steep down sections as well as some fast sections down the valleys and several water crossings (this race has everything).

The plan worked well . Taking it steady on the first couple of climbs past check point 1 then a nice gentle run on top . We were laughing and joking on the flat section and even had enough time to stop for a photo shoot for Pete (Fell running photographer)http://www.prdouglas.co.uk/ . It was only then that we started to turn it up a bit . Putting on some speed for the descent down the valley . But , still time for another pose for the camera . This time it was Alistair http://www.fellrunningpictures.co.uk/ with the lens and his usual encouragement or was it jeering ? I can never tell ;-)

Check point 2 passed . Next , a nice steady climb and a chance to get some energy on board . This was in the form of kendal mint cake (pure sugar). I think I timed the mint cake just right as it started to kick in for the next climb after check point 3 . A bit of navigating was required after that as people were going off in different directions . We got it about right as we dropped onto check point 4 at around the right place (ahead of some of the others). Another fast descent down the valley (where we over took a few people) to check point 5 and the start of the hard work with a long climb up "windy batch" the first of the last three killer climbs . I usually loose a few places on the climbs but this time I managed to hold onto my position . A steep descent followed before the next climb up "callow" and check point 6 . A monster of a hill but again I managed to hold onto my position and M and I even managed to put some distance between us and the next runners . I was feeling good for the little bit of contouring before the next steep and slippy descent , although I had to walk for a few minutes as the previous climb was taking its toll on one of my calves , I was getting cramp . It soon went away and we slid down to ashes hollow . Here we saw Alistair again and another photo before the last climb . Now it was starting to catch up with me and I struggled to get up yearlet (check point 7). We still over took a couple of people , but , at the same time were being over taken . One more steep descent to go . I didn't realise until afterwards but here is where M slipped and bent his , recently operated on , knee . I was intent on keeping up with another runner on the last fast valley descent and didn't notice M wasn't right behind me . I managed to over take the runner but annoyingly I missed a cheeky little short cut which the other runner took . He then popped out a few yards ahead of me on the path . One last short steep descent into carding mill valley and the finish line . Luckily M hadn't damaged his knee and came in a minute afterwards .
I loved doing this race . It has everything you could want in a fell race and it's on my door step .

So , did I beat last years time ? YES ! I knocked off 17 min from last year . I came in position 158 with a time of 2:48:04 . The winner , Andrew Davies , ran it in 1:39:41 that's fast .

Thanks to Mercia Fell Running Club for putting on an excellent race . Thanks to Alistair for the photos and encouragement and a massive thank you to Methuselah for pacing me so soon after his knee opp . I'm sure he could have run it much faster but maybe wouldn't have had as much fun as running at my slower pace . Cheers dude .

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