Well, the 2nd time is the charm for this race, I guess. This is the first time I've repeated a race since moving to the UK, and my results are night and day, literally. In 2010 I started in the dark with the walkers, got horribly lost, and finished in the dark. In 2011, I started in daylight with the runners, and finished well before the sun went down.
In the hall before the start, I ran into Nick, (his photos are here) who I hadn't seen since bumping into him in the middle of the night on the Open24, if that even counts. Also met fellow blogger Mike (good photos of the day) who was attempting his first Round Rotherham but knew the area well having grown up here.
From the tiny bumbags that many runners were carrying, we concluded that there were no kit requirements, joy! I gleefully left all the normal junk in the car, carried my smallest pack (still almost empty) and didn't even have a waterproof top (gasp!). It was chilly at the start, so I finally got to try out my Pertex jacket, usually passed over for a fully waterproof version.
The forcast was for sun, light winds, and nice temperatures. In other words, a beautiful day to be out running. My goal was to not get lost, and perhaps even attempt a sub 10 hour race. The dry conditions meant that the course would be fast, and with only gentle undulations it is a very runnable route. I think even road shoes would have worked for me today, but I was happy wearing comfy trail shoes.
With 6 miles clicked over in the first hour to give me a bit of cushion later, I settled into a steady 5 mph pace, which is what I would need to finish in 10 hours. I found I could actually keep up a pace quite a bit faster than than, but with lost time at checkpoints and walking up a few hills, it all averaged out.
I had only minor bumps in the race, including somehow choking on a cracker I had eaten 5 minutes before at the first checkpoint. Somehow a stray crumb worked its way down the wrong tube, and I coughed until tears were streaming down my face. The guy behind me was concerned and made sure I had water in hand. Luckily it sorted itself out shortly after.
Then, just before the second checkpoint, I tripped over a pebble and did a faceplant onto a gravel road. The same guy happend to be behind me again, and gave me a hand up after I checked all my moving parts for injuries. Escaping with just a few scratches, I continued on for a drama free rest of the race.
Never got lost!!!!! Again I had a really fun time navigating using the Wainwright style maps that make it a whole different experience than map reading. I noticed a lot more landmarks along the way because I was really forced to watch for signs and turnoffs. It was amazing how much of the route I recognized from the year before. I gave a middle finger salute to the bridge that had caused me almost 10 extra miles of running in 2010, and noticed a few other spots where I had gotten a little lost. Not this time. Many thanks to Henry Marsden for his meticulous upkeep of the route and the maps.
With a few hours left to go, I was still on pace for 10 hours, until I flipped to the last page and realized that the course wasn't 80k , it was 81k! An extra kilometer to run suddenly seemed to far to go. So did running another 3 hours at a pace that was already hurting quite a bit. However, the miles kept clicking over, and finally I was running through the part of the course that I had covered in the dark last year. I knew if I could keep it up for just a bit longer I might make it. With a few miles left to go, I picked up a follower who had lost his maps, and we attempted to run to the finish, laughing at how hard we were trying to beat an arbitrary time limit, and concluding that 9:59 was no better than 10:01. Anyway, the finish flags came in sight when my watch still showed 10:00 hours flat, and I finished with a time of 10:00:36. Definitely a PR as last year it had taken me 14:30 with my 10 mile detour!
Results on Henry's website can be found here