I won this race last year but knew I had my work cut out to do so again this year. I was a definite 2nd favourite behind Nipper, who had been routinely kicking my arse in sessions, but this was a strength course and I hoped that would swing things my way a bit. The course is 3 laps of a very hilly, but bone dry 4k loop which suits me quite well.
The first 4k lap was uneventful – I sat in a lead group of 5, feeling reasonably comfortable but not super easy. Last year I cruised through in 12.15, but we hit 4k in 12.40 this year. Over the next 2k the group split a little and contained 3 training partners – myself, Nipper and Yugi. As we navigated a few of the sharp uphills, Yugi surged to the front and took off over the top of the hill, taking me and Nipper completely by surprise. It was such a sudden surge for only half the race gone I just thought “he either feels super easy, or he’s going to die”. Nipper waited a few seconds then started to chase Yugi down, and over the next 1k, Yugi got a 50m lead, with me 50m further back. At 8k Nipper had caught Yugi, who apparently tried to surge again! The 2nd lap was 13.01 for me, 8 seconds behind the others.
Entering the final third of the race, Nipper started to pull away from Yugi who was slowly coming back to me now. Between 9k and 10k he came back quite quickly and when I pulled level he couldn’t offer much resistance and was breathing very hard. I didn’t have to surge too hard to get a gap and finished in 2nd place, 30 secs behind Nipper and 10 ahead of Yugi.
My time was nearly a minute down on last year, but this year I’m focused on the marathon whereas last year I was doing more 10k based work. However, I’m still a little disappointed with the result but won’t dwell on it – bigger picture!