The V50’s Vs Long Mynd
by David Crout
Long Mynd was the first leg of the KAC MV50 team’s assault on English Champs silver medal glory. Gold ain’t going to happen unless Calder Valley all have an untimely accident, but silver…that could just be doable. Five brave warriors took the long (SOO long) road south to Shropshire to take up the challenge. There were the three athletes – Guy Illingworth, Jim Haworth, Steve Angus – then me (chauffer and general spare part) and Andrew Butcher (team mascot, groupie, photographer and dental support). People bang on about nutrition etc, but top calibre dental support is also vital for the elite time – you won’t catch us MV50s losing time to an unplanned emergency abscess between checkpoints 2 & 3, no siree.
We weren’t all at peak fitness. Jim had come off his mountain bike and scraped his leg, and was wearing a cow bandage on his arm. And I had bashed my ribs up snowboarding for the first time the weekend before, trying to prove I could do it as well as the kids – silly old b*gger. So it was off to visit Uncle Tonk for me a couple of days before the race, and he sorted me out with some of his magic Sellotape.
Anyhoo, we all obviously headed down the night before, because as top calibre athletes we need our beauty sleep. Jim and I opted for a romantic stay at the Premier Inn in Shrewsbury, Steve bagged a Travelodge just a bit further south, and Guy and Andrew stayed with the young ‘uns at the bunkhouse Harry had found in Church Stretton itself. Guy was unreasonably delighted that the U23 he was sharing a room with had to get up to go to the loo more times in the night than he did – he was so pleased; the race was just secondary for him after that.
And so to the day of the event. Guy showed me a great tip for screwing up your race number before pinning it on, to cut down flapping / wind resistance: it’s all about fine margins, just like Formula 1 – every tenth of a second counts. Then Jim and I jogged out to warm up and have a look at the start / finish. I wisely pointed out the line of the final descent. Then Matty came along and pointed out that I was looking at entirely the wrong fell – he didn’t quite turn my race map back the right way up for me, but almost. I donated him an extra energy bar in return.
We opted for different strategies with race tops. Guy was wearing his signature long-sleeved black top, which makes him look a bit like a poor woman’s Milk Tray Man. For younger readers, you might need to ask your mum and dad about the Milk Tray Man: turns out you couldn’t get a box of rubbish chocolates delivered in the 70s without abseiling from a helicopter to do it. Jim also went long, I went short, and Steve opted for vest only , like the proper fell runner he is.
Then we were off. The race is down as a medium (AM), but at 18.5km with 1370m of ascent it’s a really tough medium. It’s like the race planners were thinking “I know you all think we’ve only got poxy little hills here in Shropshire, but WE’LL show you”. What’s worse is that all the hard stuff is towards the end. We started with a steep climb, then the first of a number of steep descents through delightfully soft peat – lovely, I thought about taking some back to Glyn for his garden. Then a long, long flatish bit. I was following the route on the map, having not had a chance to recce, and trying not to go too hard too early: not a big problem as the ribs were still sore. Then the sting in the tail; three really steep short climbs, the last one a real brute. I overcooked it on the last-but-one descent, and was struggling to keep up any speed. Then there was then a big traverse, some descent…still can’t see the end…hi Louise…then suddenly the finish magically appeared just below me. One final peaty descent and collapse over the finish line.
So how did we do? Milk Tray Man was 135th overall in 2:03, then Jim (144th , 2:05), then Steve (179th, 2:12). Those were our three scorers, with me back on 2:18 (must do better). Provisionally, pending the official results, that put us 4th on the day behind Calder Valley (who won by a mile), Mercia (the local team, they won’t keep that up) and Helm Hill (perhaps our main rivals for silver?). So it’s all to play for in the next 5 events of the series – if we can get a good turnout of our better runners we can definitely do it!
Oh yes, almost forgot, there were a few other people running as well, outside of the main MV50 action. Great run by Nic Jackson to come second in the women’s race in a time of 1:42 – wow! The men’s event was won by Keswick resident William Cartwright, in a new record time of 1:28:55 (wow again) – in fact the top 6 men were all inside the old record. Top Keswick AC men were Brennan (5th, inside old record), John Battrick (9th), Lamby (12th), Harry (14th), Sam (22nd), Steve Hebb (25th & 2nd V40), Carl (38th & 4th V40) and Matty (40th) – great packing and first team I believe. Kerry had a great run, having recced the route a few times & taking a crafty line up the final ascent. Apologies to those I haven’t mentioned – it was a really good turnout by KAC given what a schlep it was down there.
On a more serious note, many people were wearing red and white ribbons as a tribute to fell runner Darren Kay, who tragically went missing while holidaying in Madeira recently, and a few words were spoken in his memory.
OK, let’s bring on Fairfield!