Monday, 8 June 2009

Cleeve Cloud Cuckoo 5.5m

Being over 600m, the highest point of the Cleeve Hill common land above Cheltenham technically fulfills the definition of a 'mountain' as set out by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW). On this basis, the smashingly titled and charmingly set Cuckoo race might be defined by some as a 'fell run' although to be honest whether it is or it isn't is academic. Basically, it's a short little toughie with nice views - and it's only up the road!

Leaving Mike to network and catch up with old buddies, I left the pre-start gaggle for a nice warm up on the slopes above the golf club house. A wee in a gorse bush and five minutes sitting quietly on a disused tee helped to focus the mind.

The course forms a figure eight route across the top of Cleeve. On the outward leg, I slot in behind Jamie and decide that I'm going to give the race the best I've got. Mike's in there alongside. I'm not feeling tip top however, which is probably down to a lack of training, post-wedding tiredness and too much beer over the last week and a bit. Jamie leaves me behind quite quickly and then I'm struggling to keep up with two serious looking club runners who aren't up for conversation.

Down to the old sheep wash and out up the steep hill on the other side, the legs just aren't springy. I overtake a teeneage lass who has slowed to a walk, but otherwise I'm staying apace of others around me.

Onto the tops again and running towards the masts and then the turn back for the last diagonal back to the finish at the club house. I'm stretching out and working hard with my arms. The mouth is very dry. The teenager catches me up and I dig a bit deeper to try to keep up with her but I know that I'm not going to do it. She'd first to the last climb up to the trig point and this time she runs it all. Her Bourton clubmate is just ahead of her - another under 18!

Then it's the half mile downhill to the finish and I try to let my legs go and follow the momentum but I'm at my limit. I'm going as fast as I can and my breath comes and goes in loud gasps. I give up on catching the two in front, but I'm not going to be overtaken and I keep telling myself to keep going to try to come in under 40mins.

Over the line, shake the hands of the youths who'd beaten me and then spot another teen from cheltenham harriers who beat me in similar circumstances the year before - he's been home long enough to have got his breath back. I'm getting older and he's growing stronger!

Jamie comes over and sits beside me chattering while i come round. Mike powers in about a minute and a half later and then announces that he's going to run home. Jamie says, "I call him 'Diesel'", which is pretty accurate.

I've done a few races to date. So far the award for the most random race momento had gone to Cirencester AC for a hillybilly baseball cap with Chedworth Roman Trail on the front. The mantle has now definitely shifted to the Cheltenham Harriers for their stunningly random shot glass engraved with the logo of the race. I will treasure it.

I was 10th senior male and 25th overall in a time of 39:07. A fair improvement on last year's position of 41st and 41:55.

(Laura Kent 37:36 - rats!)

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