Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bloody Offa

Who asked him to build a bloody dyke anyway? Yes, as if you hadn't guessed, I ran the Offa's Orra this morning - and flipping 'orrible it was too.

The route has been amended this year including a new start and finish. It kind of starts halfway along the old route with a figure-of-eight at the half way point. Overall - and I didn't get a gps on it this year so the route is mapped rather than recorded - the route looks to weigh in at a similar distance to the old route - namely 20km or there abouts - with a similar amount of climb - 1,900/2,000ft of climb, give or take.

In my humble opinion - and it is very humble - the race is now a tougher challenge. The old route used to finish with a mostly flat 4 or 5 miles along the river with 95% of the climb out the way so even if you were completely discombobulated after all the ascending you could still manage to get yourself home on impulse engines. The new route puts the flat section in the first half of the race so only 50% of the climb is out the way - and on Cribyned legs that makes the final 50% of the climb a right bastard. I struggled like, well, a fool who'd given it his all at the Cribyn the day before.

Onto the race itself. With a narrowish start I didn't want to get caught in the middle of the field. Even on tired - or Cribyned - legs I was still hoping for a top fifty finish so it wasn't going to be a race where I started steadily. No this was too be a race of blasting it - well, relatively so - from the gun - or in the case of Colin he had the horn - ssh, no, stop it.

It was pretty much straight into the first major climb. A long and steady affair - but unfortunately, runnable. I probably put in too much effort and after the slippery descent to the river I was fair f*(%ed.

The run along the river seemed to take forever as my stride length started to shorten, yesterday's activities taking there toll. By the time I hit Brockweir I was gone. I dug deep but there wasn't much left. The final climb all the way up to Offa's Dyke, was a struggle. The descent was good but I didn't have the energy to push on. It was more a case of getting to the finish on time.

From the far end of the course time seemed to stand still as I bumbled along to old railway bed back towards Brockweir. Nikki M came flying past and I practically spun round a dozen times, cartoon like, in the vortex she created.

Every bit of climb was devastatingly slow but I only dropped three places from there so I was happy with that. A fourth came past on the last bit of the short second to last climb to the cheers of 'come on dad' but with a final steep descent, even on wobbly legs I got him back, before the final fifty metres uphill to the finish.

I crossed the line in an acceptable time of 1 hour and 39 minutes in 32nd place. I'm happy with that. A top fifty finish more than accomplished and I was 3 minutes quicker than last year. Although not directly comparable, I was there or there abouts.

Well done to Chepstow Harriers for putting another fine race with marshals-a-plenty and, more importantly, coffee and cake at the finish. Result. Going to finish up now with an hour on the bike because I have time on my hands with bugger all else to do...

The route of the new (and improved?) Offa's Orra Race...