Today I ran the Cannock Trig Points race. There is no set route, but 8 checkpoints (including the start and finish, the four trig points themselves and two visits to Moors Gorse, where the route crosses the Cannock - Rugeley Railway and main road). You have to visit the trigs in order: Rifle Range, Castle Ring, Brereton Spurs and the Glacial Boulder.
The race splits nicely into three with the bulk of what climbing there is at the start of each third. The first section is from the start over the Rifle Range Trig to Moors Gorse. I had slightly sub-optimal lines off the start (and started too fast!), over the last 600m to the trig, and in the wood south of the trig, but none bad enough that studying the map on the go would have saved time. I ran much of this section with Rick Robson and Arthur Clare-Hay from Mercia.
Splits 8:11, 10:01 (with climbing to trig), 9:24, 9:15, 9:54, and 8:28 (descent to Moors Gorse) - note I didn't start my GPS until we'd done 200m.
After Moors Gorse there's a steady climb up to Beaudesert and then a short drop before more climbing to Castle Ring. The main path up here was icy, and seeing runners struggling a bit coming down, I took a good line further right from the main path and could run properly down here. I caught up with Linda Edmondson (Wrekin RR) on the road to Brereton Spurs and, knowing she'd been out and recce'd, I followed her off this (third) trig down an excellent line which saved over quarter of a mile at the expense of a little climbing and rough ground. It could be refined, but even so we overtook quite a few folk as we got back onto the main path.
Splits: 10:19, 11:43 (climb to Castle Ring), 9:54, 11:09 (last bit of climb to Brereton Spurs and the rough short cut)
Climbing from Moors Gorse I took a breather and walked for the first 600m. Arthur, in front, was running, but no faster than me. A couple of folk ran past us, and then we were up. I caught Arthur as he had a drink and we ran together along the 2km road section (horrible) and then dropped into the head of Sherbrook Valley. Linda and then Arthur began to pull away from me here and I didn't have much in the way of an answer. Between the end of the road and the finish either I faded a little (not much looking at the splits) or others finished strongly, because maybe 15 runner passed me. I made another slight nav error near the Chase Road car park, and lost 100 yards doing two sides of a triangle, and I couldn't close back up on Arthur at all after that. I did manage to hold on though, running good splits over the last three miles.
Splits: 12:36 (ascent from Moors Gorse), 9:31, 9:14, 9:59 (including climb out of Sherbrook Valley), 9:55, 8:33.
I was glad to see the finish, and even happier to see my time which was 2:39:49 (74% of winner's time - I'm pleased with that). I was 87 of 136 finishers and 10th MV40 out of 17. I averaged under 10 mins per mile for the 16.3 miles and 1,500' of ascent, so I was pleased enough with my performance, but the route was really too flat and not anything like technical enough to give me any edge over the road runners.
Excellent organisation and nice tea and millionaire's shortbread at the end - thanks to Bob Dredge, his family and helpers - the race was excellently organised.
Weekly total was 28.1 miles and 4,960' of ascent, and the four week rolling count is up 5.5 miles and 860' to 114.5 miles and 16,190' of ascent (the best since the four weeks ending 07/11/2010 - so I guess I'm now pretty much over all the low level coldy virusy rubbish I've had lingering).