Shugborough Relays

Last night I went to the Shugborough Relays which is a four leg, 2 mile relay around the estate grounds. Its quite a large relay event with 250 teams entered this year ranging from the serious athletics clubs down to the under 11 teams and local runners. Walton Chasers Orienteering Club entered a team with me to go first leg, handing over to Iain Stamp then Mike Barnby and finally Mikey Hopkins.

Being a weekday evening event I had to leave work early so got home for 4.30pm. By this time my mild headache which began at work was getting steadily worse so took a couple of paracetamol and lay in bed for 45mins. When I woke up the head was no better so took two more (slight overdose...) which eventually managed to calm things down a bit.

I got to Shugborough at 6.45, met some of the other Chasers and did a warm up by jogging part of the lap. The course was surprisingly firm on foot considering the rain we have had over the last week. It was a warm humid evening but not unpleasantly so. Whilst warming up it was clear that my legs hadn't fully recovered from the 17 mile run at the weekend. They were slightly sluggish with my quads still a bit tight and I was concerned that with the long runs I've being doing that I may have lost some of my pace for the shorter events such as this.

I lined up at the start with plenty of time to spare to ensure I was at the front. One of the problems with this event is that a lot of the youngsters line up too close to the front and with the start being a bottle neck its crucial to get a good position. When the gun went off I sprinted away and got slightly carried away in the process as after 50 metres I was leading the race (for all of a metre), before settling down into race pace. I found it quite difficult early on to judge what speed to run as on one hand its too easy to burn up but at the same time very easy to run too conservatively. Either way it still feels uncomfortably brisk. Before the start I had decided to run hard at the beginning and then just try to hold on for as long as possible.

Upon leaving the start/finish field I was in about 8th and I was already finding the pace a bit fast. Along the road I gained one position but lost a couple as things settled down a bit. We then turned left into the wooded track where I was having a bit of a battle with a couple of other runners and it was quite difficult to overtake. During this section I managed to keep the status quo gaining one and losing one position. I finally managed to overtake and get a small gap on one of the runners and then went through the first mile in 5.10. We then turned onto the track exiting the forest and it was at this point my legs and lungs were really feeling it but was a case of just holding on. I lost a couple of positions on this section before rejoining the start/finish field for the last half mile. I lost one more position in this section from the guy I was battling with in the forest but with the legs and lungs totally gone by this stage there was nothing I could do about it. Overall I did the second mile in 5.19 and finished in 10.29. I think I handed over to Iain in about 12th position.

Overall I was quite pleased with my performance as the last time I ran there in 2005? I think I ran around 11.15 so it shows a good improvement in my fitness. At the same time I'm a touch disappointed to have lost a little ground towards the end but I cant grumble too much. All of the others in the team had a solid performance and I think we came about 20th overall - though it was very difficult to tell as a lot of the teams were getting lapped. A special mention to Mikey Hopkins who having run the first leg for his school didn’t realise he was also on our team sheet as well. Even still he did a solid run but didn’t look as though he was enjoying it much though! It was good to see that an orienteering club can still mix it with the big name athletic clubs.

I'll update the blog if I can find the official results and there seemed to be a photographer out on the course as well so I'll try to find some photos as well in the coming days.


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