Compass Sport Cup et al.

At the weekend I went to the qualifying round of the Compass Sport Cup held by OD at Hay Wood & Wroxall. I've been to Hay Wood for a night-o a couple of years ago and remember it for the thickets, but also for the burnt out car being marked as a feature on the map! When the start lists were published I was surprised that I was last off for the club - Iain rewarding me with my recent good form (or it could just be chance...). A number of people thought it would be perfect terrain for me as Wroxall is just parkland, but having already seen the Hay Wood map I knew the area wasn't really to my liking and that the omens were not good.

Well to cut a long story short the race was a total disaster for me and one of my worst runs in the last couple of years. I hit very few, if any controls cleanly even in the parkland. At number 2 I made a 90 degree error and lost 2 mins (even though I supposedly took a bearing), and by control 7 having got lost several times (once I only managed to relocate by coming across a control which happened to be my number 18 on the other side of the map), I had pretty much lost the plot completely. I have to admit that I was swearing like a trooper and contemplated retiring. On the way to 9 I came across Iain and said to him that I was doing s***. By this point I was mentally out of the race - part of me was doing badly because I wasn't concentrating and the other part of me not concentrating because I was doing so badly - a vicious circle.

On the way to 11 I actually hit 12 first, so when I eventually hit 11 I then sprinted back the way I came and managed to beat everyone including Graham Gristwood by 5 secs on an 18 sec control. This attitude is nothing to be proud of, but like I said I had completely lost the plot by this stage. In the end I was just glad to finish, but my knee was very sore.

So what went wrong? Well I think the cock up at number 2 didn't help and so basically with a lot of mistakes early on I never managed to 'get into' the map. I was often taking bearings and still missing the controls by some distance, my pacing was not good and just wasn't taking in any features on the way to the controls. I haven't attached a copy of the map as to be honest I hadn't got a clue where I was a lot of the time so I would only be guessing with the route. Overall I came 19th out of 58 in a time of 67.28 for 9.6k (7.0 min/km) which sounds better than it was - I must have easily lost 15 mins through my mistakes.

This coming weekend I've got another 10k this time near Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. I think the course is fairly flat so if I can pace things a little better I hope to beat my pb time of 36.23.


Last week I decided to see another podiatrist, mainly in preparation for the MdS in 2009. I do suffer from a lot of blisters when running in my trainers (before anyone mentions the shoes do actually suit my feet). Up to this point my experience with podiatrists hasn't been great, even when supposedly 'specialising' in sports. The chap I've found is an American doctor who is a foot specialist, but perhaps more importantly is an ultra-marathon runner so can appreciate the stresses my feet will be under when I go to the Sahara. He took some interest in my knee troubles but as far as I'm concerned if he sorts the feet then job done, but if he sorts the knees as well then that's a bonus. It seems that my foot strike is quite unusual (i.e. crap), which means that I run too much on the outside of my feet causing friction under my arches and thus blisters (its a bit more complicated but that's the gist). If I was to run in the Sahara like this he said there is a distinct possibility that with all the swelling and stresses that I'd be a prime candidate for a stress fracture. He thinks it could be causing some of the knee pain as well.

Well, I'm going back in a month for a bio-mechanical examination which although expensive seems far more detailed than what I've had before. He does say that it is almost certain that I will need an orthotic (he took quite a bit of interest in my previous orthotics and basically said that a 3/4 length orthotic should not be used for running - full length only and that your feet should be cast rather than placing your foot in a foam bed, as the true shape of your feet will not be captured which is important for running). He did compliment me on seeing him now 2 years in advance of the event rather than nearer the time, as it means he has plenty of time to get my feet fully prepared. As I say I go back in a months time for a full examination so will report back then.


I've started to do a bit more running as the gym is only getting me so far. On Monday I did a 3.5 mile run to loosen the legs from the orienteering the day before. This morning I went out for my longest ever run and ran from home in Sutton (Staffs border) to work at Broad Street in Birmingham City Centre (11.5 miles according to the AA). As I've never run this far before I decided to take it easy, but also because I was carrying my rucksack which although wasn't heavy (about 5kg) did affect my stride length a bit. In the end I managed to do the 11.5 miles in 1hr 30mins (around 3hr 25min pace for Marathon) and was surprised to find it as easy as I did. It was all a bit boring, but is necessary if I am to get fit again so hope to do this every week or two. The only downside with running on the road was that my knee is now very sore so might have to reassess whether running this distance on the road is a wise thing.


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