The weather was almost too fantastic for the 20k race in the Wye Valley that is Offa's Orra. With 2000 feet of ascent I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I met Mark D at the start - he was surprised to see me - and at the allotted time - that's 10:30 to you - off we set.
I took it out steady but in reality it was probably just a touch above steady. The first part of the course follows the route of the summer Tintern Trot race so I knew what I was in for and ascended through the wide forest paths at a controlled pace. Hands up, I walked up the very steep bit and three or four runner's came past - the swines - but I knew if I tried to follow them I'd pay a very expensive price towards the end. At this point I was in 23rd place and felt good for a top thirty at the worst.
Across the top I made gains on a couple of runners and then thoroughly burnt them off on the first of the steep descents. The course then winds steadily up again and I struggled a bit, being overtaken by another couple of runners to slip back to 23rd. Once onto the flat I made gains, moving up into 21st place. Then group of runners where almost out of sight but once we got on to the second steep descent I charged down like a mad man and managed to get onto the back of them - not literally, just very close - I'm not that friendly.
The final section, alongside the river, seemed to go on for ever and I managed to catch and overtake 'Wheeze' - a fellow fell runner - and then eventually moved into 19th where I remained through to the finish. I began to tire badly with about 2-3km to go but dug deep to stay well ahead of my nearest rival.
I finished in a time of 1:36:40 and 19th place so I'm chuffed to bits with my performance. I didn't think I'd go anywhere near as quick - or make the top twenty. All in all a bloody good days training.