This was my 4th race in 5 days, and after cycling 90 miles to reach Gargunnock and Saugh Hill, I wasn't feeling at my most sprightly.
The start of the race was pretty chaotic with baggy T-shirted kids going all out for the 100 metres sprint, leaving us ploddy hill runners in their wake. Thankfully they fizzled out as soon as the road steepened up, and by the time we passed under the railway bridge onto the stony track I was sitting in 3rd or 4th place.
Once we were out onto the open hillside I had Toni McIntosh and Don Reid right on my heels. I worked hard to open a gap on Don, knowing he would be faster than me on the descent.
After reaching the top of the hill, the route swings around the right across flat lumpy ground before a fast descent through gorse bushes to regain the route out.
I was surprised that Don hadn't caught me yet, since my descending was a bit half-baked, but as soon as we hit the stony track I hear Don huffing and puffing behind me. I managed to increase my pace to hold him off until we passed Kerry Wilson, at which point I eased off and let Don in front just as we hit the road. I thought I might be able to conjure up some finishing speed from somewhere, by my right shin was going into cramp, and I thought I'd prefer to just potter into the finish, rather than risk twanging something.
I was pleased enough that my time was somewhere around the 26 minutes I'd estimated. And thanks to Nat Taylor for the shoe-bag spot prize at the finish!