West Mids League 4 - Hawkbatch HOC

This week I had the opportunity of having a week off, going to the LEI or EPOC regionals or the West Mids League held by HOC at Hawkbatch. In the end I opted for the latter, even though I had a hard gym session on Friday; doing 10k on the treadmill in a time of 38.49 - just 49 secs slower than my pb!

It was dry when setting off for the event, but as the forecasts predicted the heavens opened at about 10am. As usual I did the Brown course which was 8.0km with 250m of climb. By the time I started the rain was quite hard and it stayed this way throughout.

I had a pretty decent first couple of controls which is unusual for me as I often struggle getting into the map. I pretty much took a compass bearing on each leg and hit the controls bang on. 2-3 was ok, but when I hit the main track I cut the corner and went left before quickly realising and correcting the error. I don't know why I made this error and probably lost about 20 secs. 4-5 was a fairly decent control cutting off from the bend of the track to again hit the control dead on. I made small error to 6 and veered a little too much to the left, but the time loss was minor. 7-8 was straight forward other than the open area was really muddy - I almost wonder whether going on the paths north of 7 would have been quicker?

By this time I knew I was having a pretty decent run, though I was getting a bit tired at this stage and the rain was still very heavy which made it difficult to concentrate. The brashings also made things difficult at quite a few controls. I made one of my biggest errors to 9. I came across the cliffs just before the control then slightly overshot the control before realising the cliff I wanted was set away from the track. Although in terms of distance I didn't lose much it took a while for me to figure it out.

9-12 were ok - I lost about 5 secs going to the wrong depression at 12. 13 & 14 were fairly easy and on the way I saw Iain Stamp who was also soaked, presumably on his way to 9. 14-15 I tried to cut a bit off before meeting the open strip, but ended up going at too steep an angle so had to correct this. The brashings were also fairly bad so probably ended up not gaining any more time had I just stuck to the paths. 15-16 was ok though I saw a re entrant assuming it was mine (though it felt like I hadn't gone far enough along the path), before realising the one I wanted was further along. 16-17 was straightforward with a compass bearing, as was 18 where again I cut off a bit of the corner before meeting the path to save a bit of time. 18-19 I took a bearing, but didn't count the paths so wasn't sure how far I had gone. Once I hit the gullies it became obvious so found the control ok without much time loss. 19-20 was ok, though lost about 10 secs in the vicinity of the control. From 20-F was one of the worst controls of the day. I think I just switched off and went to the car park, then via download (and the generator!) to the finish control. I'm not sure how much time I lost here, probably no more than 20 secs, but didn't like the way I executed the control.

Overall I finished in a time of 58.23 which was pleasing, running at a pace of 7.3m/km which I thought is pretty good in that sort of terrain. I did make about 3-4 mins of errors, but all of my mistakes were no more than 20 secs. The first half of the course I executed really well, but made a few more mistakes in the second half - I think this was simply a case of being a little tired as it was a physical course and the heavy rain sapping concentration levels. I think its possible to run the course in about 53-54mins.

Surprisingly for a West Mids League event I thought the terrain was quite good. The brashings at times were fairly bad, but not enough for it to spoil the run. I enjoyed the course, in some ways I think the heavy rain made me enjoy it more as the conditions were very physical and you had to concentrate more as a result. The course was fairly well planned, though there were quite a few doglegs. The maps were meant to be waterproof, but I'm not convinced they were able to withstand the mud and heavy rain, so still used a map bag. The only maps I've ever come across that look like they can withstand such conditions were the one's I used at the Phoenix. All the others become too flimsy in the rain with the detail rubbing off (like this one).

Overall I came 2nd out of 16, just 1.33 behind the winner, but first M21 and first 'midlander'. I had 7 fastest legs (out of 21) - more than anyone else. On the downside I had 2 bad legs, number 6 and 9, both of which didn't surprise me. It seems I lost 30 secs to 6 and best part of a minute to 9. Its funny that some of the controls where I made small mistakes I was still the fastest! This is probably one of my best, if not best result at a colour coded so hopefully shows that I'm beginning to make some decent progress.

Next week I have my next 10k at Fradley. I'll be really disappointed if I don't smash my pb (unless the conditions are as bad as today!) - I think I'm running at around 36-36.30 min pace at the moment.


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