As expected, it had to go wrong eventually. Can’t say we expected it to do so before we had left Southsea seafront!
There is a rare breed of person in this life who may appear perfectly normal day to day, but when they don a high-vis vest they turn into a complete and utter berk. We encountered such a creature on Sunday. Someone at Pompey Caaaaaaancil HQ decided it would be a great idea to shut all roads in and out of a popular seaside resort on a sunny weekend morning so a hardy bunch of athletes could do their Triathlon in peace. On attempting to leave the car park, our new mate Johnny High-Vis proclaimed; “All roads are shut. Nothing i can do about it till im told the bikes are all finished”.
Upon hearing this news we realised the real race may be just to get to the startline at Overton (wherever that may be!). After some frantic scout laps of the area escape for routes from Brian, the only thing for it was to tell our new found dayglo friend that we were passing his blockade regardless and didnt care how many triathletes we took with us.
The pedal was put to the metal and we were on our way. No more dramas for now and Overton was reached well within time to register and warm up.
Registration closed at 1:15pm with the race starting at 2pm, a lot later than what i have become used to, which ensured the Indian Summers heat was in full effect. After parking up we met our fellow Harriers, Jonathan and Steve. This golden battling duo had already registered and we wished our good luck’s incase we were not to meet again until the end.
Now, the best way to describe Overton would be to imagine someone picking up Carisbrooke and plonking it on the mainland (minus the castle). A strange place therefore to host the opening county running meet featuring near on 500 runners you may think?
This concern was to prove well warranted at the start.
The start line was more akin to the charge of the light brigade. A huge field of runners spread right across the local football pitch who were to merge through a small farm gate and down a narrow country lane for the 1st mile, continuing for 2 undulating laps of the village.
All thoughts of running as cohesive team unit (ive been watching Kenya closely at the World Champs) were abandoned as i tried to gain a favourable start position for the scrum which was to ensue.
AND THEY’RE OFF!
Charging through the gate it soon became apparent that any thoughts of good pacing were off the cards. Every man for himself! The 1st mile was hell. Grass, verges, gutters, banks…. anything was used to try and find a space on the ground! After reaching the 1mile sign we had the first experience of the long, steady hill. Think of a slightly kinder version of the hill that goes up from the Rowing Club and you get the idea. In the fight for road position my 1st mile was around/just under 6 minutes. I say around as dont own one of these fancy GPS thingybobs.
This 1st mile charge really affected my colleagues too as Simon, Trevor and Brain spent the 1st mile being wedged like sardines trying not to fall over. This must have cost them an awful lot of time.
The rest of the race was actually really nice. Friendly people at the roadside supporting/cheering, lovely country and rural views and a well earned, long descent into the town centre and towards the finish. My personal target at the start of the race was to be 2nd Islander home. I knew that Stu Backhouse from IWRR would be way out of my reach (his 30:30 time proved this!) but luckily i managed to grit my teeth, hold on and even pull out a sprint finish to finish in 34:47 ahead of my other island athletes. Not my fastest time but was happy with it considering my strategy went out the window after mile 1.
After being funnelled through to collect my medal and water, i awaited my colleagues. Next up was Trevor, then a massive respect to Simon for one hell of a sprint finish, taking around 5 runners in the home straight. Shortly following was Brian, Jonathan and Steve. Jonathan crossed the line and i was very confident of an excellent category placing for him!
Upon seeing the results, all Harriers gained really respectable times and Jonathan Norton’s latest category success was very well earned!
Overall, a great day out with great weather, scenery and company! Next medal hunt to be found at the Solent half and Lordshill 10!
Ryde Harriers times:
Sam Cleare – 34:47
Trevor McAlister – 37:11
Simon Joy – 39:31
Brian Warren – 39:56
Jonathan Norton – 41:08
Steve Lee – 43:41