You would have thought that after three times I would know where I am going in this race, or that I would have remembered what kind of shoes to wear or even that I would have gotten wise to that bastard "Tim" Adams stealing my rightful number 1 (I clearly am alphabetically superior). But no, I may as well always be running this for the first time ever.
The day started as usual, I woke up with a sore head from too much beer and a kebab the night before (I don't think Gemma knows about the kebab, I think I hid it well in the bin). I could have done with more sleep or at least a very sugary coffee but January is the month of no sugar and I could not even have that. I headed down to Marlebone to climb aboard the C2C express to Wendover with about 50 others who were either headed the same place I was or heading home after some weird all night rocky horror show party.
I love this race for many reasons.
- It's a nice distance, you can build a 5000 calorie deficit (11 Bigmacs / 3 large curries with naan and rice / 4 large pizzas / 57 inches of Italian BMT subway / 29 pints of Doom Bar) without smashing yourself too much
- It's easy to get to and the finish is 2 miles from my house
- I get to see lots of friends on the train there, in the race and afterwards
- There is lots of canal. I like canal
- It's a great start to the year, a really well organised and friendly event
- I've done it many times before and so am unlikely to get lost
I also don't like it for some reasons
- That bastard Tim Adams keeps stealing my number 1
- I am always unfit, fat and more asthmatic (because of the fat)
- I am not very good at sprinting and the rule is that you must sprint for the first 200 meters
- I always get lost
It was great catching up with many Serpies and others on the train there, then when arriving at the Pub where approx 200 runners were getting kitted out, tagged, numbered and lubricated. It was great to bump into yet more friends, Drew, Claire, James and see Paul and Luke again who were amazing in helping the Piece of String race last year. I also saw Tim Adams. Bastard.
I think this was a record turnout and the start line on the road was packed, I managed to push myself to the front of the pack to get a good start for a ridiculous sprint. James was on the pavement ready to go. I think I jumped the gun, there was no restart but I was immeadiately behind Paul Navesey who just seemed to be jogging faster than any of us could sprint, he even stopped to look around to make sure we were all there. I was in a reasonable place with gravity on my side until a lung collapsed and I had to sit down. Disgraceful performance in the race of the year so far. And I lost the nozzle thing from my camelpack and lost all my water. Doh.
I recovered enough to get to the gate so that it was not too busy afterwards.
The first half of the race is mostly on the Chiltern Way, I think I never am really paying attention. I was following everyone else who had not done the race before. I got chatting to a guy I met in Dorset last month and we spoke about the mud. This wasn't really that muddy though I really need to invest in some trail shoes, the road racing flats were not great on mud.
I also met a chap called James who asked me when my book was out and that he would but one. Awesome, I hope to have it out around April and so far I have got about 8 pre orders :) Great to meet you James :)
It didn't take long for about 20 of us to get lost. I was not leading the gang though I think some people were relying on my multiple finishes of this race to say whether I recognised a point or not. I said that none of it looks familiar at all but I do suffer from some sort of race amnesia. It all looked new to me. Unfortunately this big hill we just climbed in a street was actually new to me, we had exited a field in the wrong corner and went the wrong way. Matt Hearne was there with a GPS thingy who was convinced we had gone wrong and I just followed him.
I don't mind extra miles. Might entitle me to an extra big mac.
When I returned to the correct path I met up with Kris Duffy and Sophie Gaskell who looked very happy to be slopping around in the mud. I got to enjoy Kris going through all the possible combinations of how to wear two buffs, starting out granny style in the cold, progessing to Mexican bandit and finishing with the celebrity rolling out of re-hab trying to make herself look annonymous. I spend away from Richard and Matt as they kept taking the piss out of me for going for a piss really often and I needed another piss and didn't want them to see.
A paradox. Sam Robson would like this. There is a queue of 10 runners climbing over a stile. They each take two seconds to climb over. If there is a stile just 50 meters later then why does another queue form? Should they not all be 2 seconds apart?
Anyhoo, my head was starting to hurt as the hangover kicked in and I felt low on energy and two small packs of pork scratchings didn't really cut it. I was intending to continue my no sugar experiment for this race but decided to have a GU gel shortly after joining the canal at about 25 miles. Ahhhhhhh canal.
The canal was actually really busy, usually there are not many runners there but there was a group of about 20 of us plodding down and annoying the fisherman. What on earth can they catch in there? I stuck with Kris and some others while Sophie just zoomed off into the distance.
I like the canal. Last year it was much harder as I ran the first bit too hard and crashed. This year I still felt OK despite a little energy wobble but managed to keep a reasonable pace for the whole of the remainder. I passed Claire Shelley and Drew with about 8 miles to go. No matter how hard I try to let that girl beat me she ballses it up. Maybe in the Spartathlon this year...
OH DID YOU HEAR THAT ENTRIES ARE OPEN FOR THE SPARTATHLON?????? Get in now.
The last few miles were very pleasant. I ran with Kris and was giving him a tour of the canal that I run every day. Here is where I get off to head to work, here is where I go for a piss when I am tiddly and running home from work (and I went). Here is where I once posed for a nude charity calendar (true story). Oh and here is the finish.
All in all it was a good run. It was my slowest time of 7.14), previously I have done 7.01, 6.53 and 6.55 I think but felt like this was going to be harder today so pleased that I am not too far behind.No more ultras until I am a married man now (unless they make me do one on my stag do). Off to do some 3 hour marathon training as per my silly plan to run 290 miles in May.
The Country to Capital showed itself again as a brilliant run. I'll be here next year and would recommend it to all levels, even those wanting to do their first ultra. Great atmosphere and organisation and it finishes next to a pub that do great burgers (though mental note for next time let them know that at about 4pm dozens of hungry runners are going to start pouring in).
Hope you enjoyed. Please remember two things
1 - Donate to the World Relay (click image below)
2 - ENTER THE SPARTATHLON - let me know if you have any questions. I can answer most that are not to do with figuring out their online entry thing. I am going to write an article soon on exactly how I trained for the race the three times I have done it.