Having done this awesome event at Belton House last year just had to do it again as it’s as much a day out as a race. For the £10 or £12 entry you get the entrance for yourself and one other into the Belton Horse Trials and country fair, including the race (and fine memento’s) although they didn’t `officially` let you into Belton House for free this year.
Very cold, grey and blowy start and I’m hoping my legs are rested from yesterday`s fell race enough to put in a credible performance and get near last year`s 15th place. It seems that the good word has spread and the attendance has tripled to over 300 runners this year, many I’m guessing also started late due to the huge tailback of traffic into the venue.
Tony Allen the only Strider in full kit today (Sorry!), Norman Starks we didn’t see but we did have Diane and Michael Atton as cheerleaders so no scrimping on the Strider Cup points!
Race starts at 11:30 and although it looks like short neat grass to start within the first 1k it`s not only uphill but the grass lengthens to the stuff that drags your pace, still it’s nothing bad. Mind you the first real hill at 3.5k is and its one many are forced to walk (it’s all Runnable!), my legs get going again at the top and start hitting form) passing people through the woods section and especially on the descents (thank you Inov-8 trailroc 245`s).
Second big hill is a killer and although its slow still `no walk in the park` for this guy, the last 3k is back the way you went out but it does feel a hell of a lot longer especially as your going for scalps and trying to do that on tired legs. Complacency lost me four places in the last 100m instead of putting a sprint on but I’m very happy with my placing of 30th and time of 45:55 some six minutes quicker than last year!
Norman Starks and Tony Allen ran superb races also coming 55th and 90th in 48:51 and 52:48 respectively, it’s one of those races that hurt like hell at the time but you feel great afterwards – it is a tough tough course and I hope that despite that we can see more Striders shirts there next year as it is one for the family as well as the runner. [Rob]