Monday, February 21, 2011

Hestercombe Humdinger

This was our first visit to the Hestercombe Humdinger and although not our favoured off road terrain it was an enjoyable experience.  Maiden Newton Runners were not exactly out in force, but there were enough of us there to be described as a group.

The race starts in front of Hestercombe House, a lovely setting and heads up the drive and through lanes at the foot of the Quantocks.  Martin said afterwards that he clocked the first mile in 5.50 which he felt meant that he had gone off a little too fast.  It's a good job he didn't glance back because I clocked my first mile in 5.53 which was not a little too fast but totally insane!  After that we both settled down to a slightly more sensible and infinitely more sustainable pace.

This part of the race was a bit of a blast from the past for me - when I first began running again after the post school slothful years, my running friend lived just down the road from Hestercombe House and we often ran circuits from her house around these same lanes.  In fact the Humdinger route passed by where she lived, although she has long since moved on (moved to France, mainly I think to avoid having to run with me any more, as my enthusiam for running increased her's dwindled.  I still think it was a bit drastic emigrating, she could have just said "I don't want to run with you any more".  I would have been a bit upset but I would have understood. Anyway back to the race..........)

A three mile loop took us back to Hestercombe House, where we once again ran up the drive but this time turning right.  Lots of support here from spectators and the PA system before we tackled the first of the challenging climbs.  I had managed to drop one of the girsl who caused my ridiculous cavalry charge of the first mile, but the other one had gained about 50 yards on me and remained stubbornly at that distance ahead for the rest of the race.  I kept thinking I was gaining on her but each time it proved an optical illusion and in reality I just couldn't close the gap.  At about 3 and a half miles I caught and overtook the one other female runner ahead of me, but at the same time was myself caught and overtaken by the girl who narrowly beat me at the Loch Ness marathon, and so I remained in 3rd place for the entire race.  I could still see Martin up ahead and was hopeful that  his legs had not recovered from last week's tough Four Trigs and that I may be able to catch him, but my last glimpse of him was at 5 miles and after that he disappeared from view.

A sharp downhill section into Kingston St Mary followed and then a left turn and another telling climb up "Humdinger" Hill - still tailing my female rival by the same distance and still working hard in the fruitless attempt to close the gap. The figure of 8 route around unfamiliar lanes had left me completely disorientated and I felt as if I was heading in the wrong direction now but summiting the last climb brought me back to Vollis Hill which we had climbed on our way out and which we could now swoop down knowing that the end was near.  As I turned into the house and summoned up my remaining energy for the sprint down the drive I could see Martin waiting at the line - he finished in an execellent 15th place overall and a full 2 minutes ahead of me today.  I crossed the line in 1.05.55, overall position 23rd.

We collected our t-shirts and then jogged back down the drive to meet the others - firstly Lesley, being paced by Richard today, and not far behind them, Charlie who we then ran in with - and a storming finish she had too, charging down the hill passing several other runners as she headed for the line, well ahead of Andy in a reversal of their finishing positions last time they both did this race.

It was a good day for MNR - picking up 1st MV55, 1stFV45, 1st FV55 and 3rd lady trophies - I was also reunited with my trail shoes which I had left behind at the Four Trigs last week and I'm pleased to report that even with a visit to my parents in nearby Wellington thrown in I managed to get home with all my possessions intact, nothing left anywhere it shouldn't have been, a small miracle indeed based on my recent form!