Lightwater Country Park MABAC Sunday 19th November 2023
After a couple of late changes to the venue prompted by forestry work in the Hurtwood (apparently they are cashing in on the rising price of timber) a small band of RPAC runners made the long trek to Lightwater Country Park yesterday morning for the final MABAC fixture of the season.
You will recall that we were lying in fifth place in the league with Wimbledon Windmilers and Epsom Oddballs just ahead of us and I was hoping that a good turnout would see us leapfrog them into third place. Alas it was not to be; the long trek to the borders of Hampshire and Berkshire, the competing attractions of the Brighton 10K and some confusion over the availability of transport (note to self: do not go on holiday in the week preceding a race) meant that we were never going to field a big team. To compound our woes we had a couple of last minute drop outs - Toby with Covid and Paddy with a calf strain; I hope you're both OK.
So it was that a team of 13 from RPAC (including a couple of friends) gathered in the almost sunny conditions at Lightwater. We had been through a sharp shower on the way but it stayed dry throughout the event. Jas had already done a lap of the course so was able to advise us on the conditions : "sand, gravel, grass, mud and some hills". It was clear that some of the other clubs had turned out in force - Blackwater Valley Runners had managed to get 130 people there in an attempt to snatch the League title from serial winners Dorking & Mole Valley AC. There were allegations of bribery in the form of beers being offered to everyone who came along; I was assured that it was just cake, but who knows?
After a briefing from League Secretary Ken we set off promptly at 10:00 on a slight uphill. About 50m into the race Jas was forced to pull out with a calf injury. It was clear that this was not going to be our day. Our woes continued as Gareth Bowers was forced to stop after a lap with the recurrence of his calf injury. It wasn't all bad news though as a few minutes into the first lap I was overtaken by someone in a RPAC vest who was absolutely flying - I only worked out who it was from his distinctive hairstyle - Ben Stanton.
Ben was our first person home, finishing in 26th place in a gun time of 36:30. I reckon that he must have started at least 5 minutes behind everyone else so I imagine his actual time was considerably faster than that. Sadly because of the injuries to Jas and Gareth we did not have a complete men's team (you know you're in trouble when I end up scoring more than 5 points!). The ladies did really well with Jo Hennessy, Gemma Frith, Mel Fulton-Bell, Gail Hill and Kate Knight all scoring valuable points.
I'd just like to say a big thank you to the intrepid 13 who came along yesterday and to the 119 people who have taken part in a MABAC event this year. It wasn't our year this year, but who knows what next year will bring?
The next MABAC race is in Windsor Great Park on Saturday 3rd February at 09:00 I'd love to see many of you there.