Report Submitted by Neil Capstick
A Hobbit away from the Shire
The weather forecast was awful and so I was not looking forward to driving for 90 minutes and then squelching 26 miles around the perimeter of the reservoir.
As a non-cyclist and de-trained runner I knew it was going to hurt, the only real thing in question was how much!
A year ago today I had just run the Berlin marathon and was just about to run the Himalayan 100 at 12,000 ft, but the 12 months in-between had seen me find an extra stone in weight and undertake no training, nada, zilch. My longest run had been 11 miles and my last run had been the week before at the Bounders Pasty Run, or Night of the Living Dead as I will always remember it.
There was added pressure as I had agreed to race three youngsters from my office. They were to do a leg each and was doing all three. I had foolishly joined in a bit office banter and “trash talk” and told them that not only would I beat them overall but I would beat them in each leg. I am 50, their ages are 30, 25 and 21. Gulp!
I woke around 6:30 to the sound of rain pelting the windows, marvellous, just marvellous. I had a quick chat with “my reason for living” and said of all the events I had run over the last two years I wasn’t actually sure if I could finish. She gave me a look that would have made a charging bull take up crochet and charitable works and so I slung the bike in the car.
The sun shone, I met the other guys, had some banter and more trash talk and headed off to the start.
The RBR sets off a little before the 10k, and so I barged to the front like a true warrior, flexing my pecs, staring people out and terrifying young and old alike with my race face. Fifteen minutes later and we were off. I was conscious that I had 26 miles to cover and so the plan was to take it easy. The course is a good one, well signposted, relatively flat and very picturesque. There is a bit of hill half way and another further on, but both are fairly easy and even though we had seen some recent rain the course was dry.
I was running like a gazelle—feeling hunted and wondering when I would be “taken down” by the young lion from the office. I knew I should not run fast as I would burn out, but it was sooooo hard to run slowly-I persevered but was finding it hard and then remembered my first wife and the dread I felt when I returned from work to her scowling face. It worked!!! My pace slowed, my breathing become more laboured and I began to sweat-Perfect.
It was a knocking bet that I would win the first leg as my office colleague was to running what fish are to chess. The only thing in question was by how much. I was aiming to run around 1hr 5min so as to leave myself some energy for the next two legs. The leg is just under 7 miles and to be honest is fairly straightforward, only two climbs of note and the rest undulating. My top tip would be to use the downhill sections to your advantage. I was amazed at the number of runners mincing on the downhill sections and losing the ground they had made on the uphill. Only one complaint really and that is that water was in very short supply, perhaps they were saving it for the marathon the next day!
I am not sure how you are supposed to time these things and if your transition time is added to your run or your bike. Anyway, I finished the transition and began the bike section after 59 minutes, this included a wee stop behind a tree and further trash talk to the guy who was doing the bike leg for them. Phrases like “eat my shorts”, “who ate all the pies” “and “see you tomorrow fat lad” were used and then I was off. Punching the pedals, I powered out of the transition –straight into a 100ft climb. Bugger….
I climbed it ok and began to settle in. I was climbing the hills but it was taking its toll ( I am no cyclist) and I was beginning to worry that I was burning too much energy ,but there really was no choice. Ascent, decent, ascent, decent and so it went on and on and on. This is a tough section but my trusty bike was in its element even if I was not. I had tried a couple of trips on my bike a couple of months earlier and found that my puny frame was struggling. So, I decided the only way to make life easier was to get a better bike. A grand lighter and I had a Cannondale 2015 Quick CX1 Hybrid and boy did it climb (the only change I made from out of the box were knobbly tyres). The Hybrid definitely aided my downhills and anything that was not uphill was eaten up much quicker than the mountain bikes, but the extra cog on the Quick even helped me climb. I reckon hybrid is the way to go for this race.
I did have to get off once but that was because as I approached the biggest hill in the race, the guy in front of me veered across the track forcing me to brake sharply. This took all of my momentum and I did not recover. (He was probably from London or another foreign land, you know what they are like). It was on this hill that I heard a particularly loud cry behind me. I often hear crys from behind me even in everyday life and so there was no way I was going to stop! It turned out some guys chain had snapped on the ascent. I think his crown jewels took a pounding, which would explain the yell, but either way his race was over.
After that it became really interesting. It turns out that pedalling full pelt downhill is quite good fun. A couple of female competitors slowed me down a little as they were a little nervous going downhill, so I just kicked them out of the way down the gully. (Ok, I waited behind them, but I wanted to kick them in to the gully) It was really quite exhilarating and like nothing I have experienced before and I will definitely be giving it a second go.
After the helter skelter of the middle section there are quite a few miles of undulating ground to cover, not easy, not hard, just miles. In the early sections there had been a lot of overtaking and shouts of “coming through” and “to your right” but all that had died down as everyone had settled into their natural order.
I had about four miles on my own. Lost in my own thoughts I almost suffered and involuntary evacuation of the bowels when a girl came through from nowhere shouting “coming through”. More like follow through I thought as my heart settled down.
The weather up to now had been kind but then, just as I reached the only really exposed part of the whole race, the heavens opened. The rain stung my arms but worse, it really affected my body temperature and I felt cold for the first time. This probably only lasted for a mile or so but it felt much more and sapped me a little.
Then that it was it, a few more gently climbs with one monster within a couple of miles of the finish and the bike leg was over. Including the transition I had covered the bike leg in 1hr 26 minutes. I was disappointed as I had hoped to do it faster but those hills had hammered me-more cycling next year.
My disappointment was soon forgotten though as, bike flung aside like a lemonade at a Bounders night out, I tried to run. What the *&^%! Ok, so maybe I should have tried this side of the race before and perhaps cycled and then tried to run but I say again what the *&^%! My first steps almost made my hit the floor, I stumbled, and conscious that people were watching, made a show of attempting to run. My calves were roaring like a lion on speed with a thorn in its wottsits and my quads were screaming for mercy. Eh, how can this be, I was fine on the bike, what’s going on. I set off on convinced that I would never finish and muttering about stupid legs, stupid race, stupid bike and an old man like me does certainly NOT have to do this sort of thing on a weekend.
Runners were streaming past me and I had to resist the temptation to pick up a branch and club them as they passed, this was so disheartening. Don’t they know who I am!
Mr Garmin tells me that my first mile was 10:40 but then the pain began to subside and my legs began to work. About time I thought. Mile 2-4 was much, much better and I was actually getting faster when the sign for the final 400 metres leapt out at me. I stopped, reapplied my make-up, adjusted my clothes, combed my hair, put a smile on my face and swung around the corner and on to the final finishing straight to thunderous……………nowt….where was “My reason for living” to cheer me on? Had I not run like a god, cycled like a hero and finished off like an Olympian? Where was my bird? No matter, I ran on, crossed the line, picked up medal and T shirt and got changed.
Turned out that the love of my life had stayed at transition 2 to see the office team change over and turned up almost 70 minutes later!!
I beat the office team by around an hour and 20 minutes but at the time of writing don’t have their individual times so I don’t know if I won each leg-I think I did but my final leg was a very slow 38 minutes for four miles-not my finest hour.
Overall, I would highly recommend the race to runners. Don’t worry about the cycling element, give it a go and enjoy it but probably best to practice a few transitions too!
PS: Anyone know a good divorce lawyer?