Well who would have thought it. British Long Distance Champion 2011.
I was looking forward to the race as I knew it would be well planned and a proper good course from Oli and Jenny Johnson. I wasn't disappointed. It was testing all the way through. Based on this, I had gone for a conservative strategy. I don't like doing this, I think its more fun to go eyeballs out but that almost inevitably ends in explosion. Recent results have told me that a more controlled approach is better and Wharncliffe looked the sort of place that I could easily bin 5 minutes even when in the circle.
So thats how I started. And it went well. I flowed nicely through the first section of the course, a little wobble at 6 (a boulder in a green bit) but I felt good. I got through the spectator safely but soon got confused in holly bushes (15 and 16). I lost a fair bit of time here, but I saved it being more by just going back to my previous control and starting again.
We had a long leg and I took the straight option, picking up some rides. They were quite rough running and in hindsight I should have gone around the track. I thought this looked just too much extra distance to do, but given the terrain it was probably the best option. I didn't hit the control very fluently, but I managed to prevent a big mistake. I then did a series of small route choice errors but pulled myself together to do a strong finish. And just aswell, as it was all won and lost in the last kilometre.
Claire Ward had stormed the race all the way until the 23rd (of 25) control. She was miles ahead of the rest of us but then lost around 5 minutes. In some ways this proves to me that my strategy was right, but in other ways it shows just how well Claire is running and how much of a gap I still have to make up. I feel like Claire lost the race, rather than I won it but I'm not complaining!
I'll try and get a map and route up sometime.