I had an "interesting" preparation for the race. I'd done the Three Peaks Yacht Race the week beforehand (finishing 10 days before the Osmotherley race). I'd gone for a 6 mile run round Chippenham in stinking heat about 5 days beforehand to prove to myself I could run in the heat (it was hard work, I don't know what I proved!). I drove up to Osmotherley on the Friday night and ended up sleeping in the car on the moors as the local campsite and youth hostel were fully booked: it was not the best night's sleep.
Osmotherley had a great atmosphere on race day: both at the start and at the finish (when the Osmotherley summer games were in full swing). There seemed to be a lot of runners on the start line and the organisers seemed to be really pleased to announce that this was their biggest race yet, with more than 350 runners on the day (it is a race that deserves to do well as it is well organised, crosses some great scenery and chooses a good runnable route across that scenery).
So, what went wrong with my race? It basically came down to the heat. The heat got to me right at the start. I felt I ran really badly for the first 10 miles. The sun just got to me. The morning was cloudless and whenever I was out in the sun (9 of the first 10 miles), I just seemed to wilt. I ran OK in the shaded sections, but these were few and far between. I felt bad enough to pull out, but I've never DNF-ed, and this didn't seem like a good place to start. I think I was about 15th at checkpoint 4.
Things started getting much better for after midday (after checkpoint 4) as a wind picked up and the clouds built. I ran pretty well for the next 10 miles and was probably running at a similar pace to the leading pack (based on reports I was getting from the checkpoints): just a mile or more behind (such was the impact of a really poor start).
My recce between checkpoints 6 and 7 proved to be irrelevant as the course map posted on the wall of Osmotherley village hall was different to the line I'd recce-d. It was back to square one and I had to navigate my way across the intricate line of footpaths. It's a shame that the line I recced isn't allowed as (I feel) it's more in keeping with the rest of the route (in my view), following moorland tracks and paths. The Osmotherley Phoenix is a "defined route" race, so as long as everyone sticks to the route, it's a level playing field.
Black Hambledon was hard work, as predicted. I caught sight of the leading pack here, but was unable to reel them in: they were just that bit too far ahead to be "in touch". When it came down to it, I was just happy to have a good push to a solid finish. Sixth wasn't exactly the result I'd wanted, but I was pleased that I'd pushed through a bad patch (oddly right at the start of the race) and had a good run over some of the race. The Osmotherley Phoenix is too good a race to be disappointed with though: the moors are too beautiful and the atmosphere at the finish is too happy to feel down.
A great weekend out. It's time for me to rest for a few weeks and dream it all up again....