Trail/off road running race 2:07:39  *** 29.0 km (4:24 / km) +745m 3:54 / km
spiked:10/12c shoes: inov8 Mudclaw 300
Surrey Hills Race 2013
Upon looking at the entry list for this, I thought I'd have a reasonable chance of winning this, having lost out to Ben Stevens last year with a small catalogue of errors. That was, until, GG announced his presence at the start, having arrived in the UK yesterday for an impromptu week-long stay. We had both previously run a fair chunk of the Hills Race course together a few years ago but, as I was in my non-training years at that point, I blew up massively after around 40 mins and we didn't finish it.
From the start I set out at what I have to admit was a fast pace, with GG, Alan, Ben and James trailing to control 1. GG and I took what was probably a sub-optimal route to 2, emerging behind the other three, but we recovered the lead on route to 3. 4 and 5 felt fine and we were able to maintain a strong pace. By this point I was essentially letting GG navigate and, while chatting to Ben afterwards suggests we maybe didn't take the best routes to 5 and 6, we were nonetheless well clear.
Approaching 6 I began I feel a stitch coming on - v annoying, as if anything I though I would have been affected by not eating enough food soon enough (cereal for breakfast at 0745) - but this sapped my pace. I quickly lost ground on GG and, while I kept him in sight until shortly after the water station at the Duke of Kent school, he'd built up a fair lead by the time I saw him coming back from 7. My route from 7 to 8 was mainly dictated by the fact I wanted to revisit the water station, but in doing so I think I unnecessarily added distance and hills. By now my legs were starting to wane (although the stitch had cleared up) and to make matters worse the sole of my right foot was being rubbed raw by my inov8s.
Now slowing, my route to 9 seemed ok but in taking the road less travelled (sounds like everyone else took the westerly option by the lakes) I probably added more time and distance. Then, running through a field between 10 and 11 I looked back and saw Ben. I knew I'd been slowing but didn't realise he'd regained so much ground. This momentarily had me in a defeatist mindset but, realising that I only had a couple of k to run at most I decided I'd try to hold him off. Navigation to 11 and 12 was fairly clean and I was still running, albeit v slowly. Ultimately finished around 4 mins down on GG and a little under a minute ahead of Ben.