Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ropsley Raid 2012

Ben Hatherley - Grantham AC runs away from the field.
I started 2012 well, too well. A terrible hills reps session was the straw that broke my over trained or under rested body. The hill reps session wasn't terrible in the sense of being badly organised, it was terrible in the sense of being very hard! The last time I did any speed work was when I lived in London and I did a similar hill reps session with Ealing Runners. In 2002 I trained regularly with the BBC Running Club and we did fast reps sessions at lunch time round a park near White City. I know from experience that 'speed work' improves stamina and speed and is an essential ingredient of spring marathon training. My experience a week last Tuesday confirmed that speed work doesn't get easier with age. As I staggered to the top of the first hill sprint I took the bowed head, hands on knees position and between 'F' words questioned whether I was up to the other nine reps of the same punishment which had been directed by session organiser McArdle. In the event I carried it through and felt pleased with my accomplishment. Plenty of lunch time runs, a bit of treadmill in the evening, an occasional longer run and a 16 mile steady run culminating in a hill reps session meant I'd started the new year as intended, then came the familiar sore throat and cold that meant I had to ease back and consequently I decided against the Ropsley Raid.     

Ropsley Raid

Grantham AC
Instead I decided to spectate. I left the house, drove through the McD's drive through for coffee and some time before 11.30am I was sipping full roast whilst standing in a field with only a couple of Hare's and a distant gaggle of Deer for company. I had a pretty good view of Kirton Wood in the distance from which I knew runners would soon emerge. It felt fairly surreal stood by myself sipping McDonalds coffee in a remote part of the Lincolnshire countryside surrounded by silence and green but in the knowledge that in just a few minutes the silence would be broken by the sound of tired runners crossing the fields for home.

First Place but he didn't mean it!
The Ropsley Raid is organised by Ropsley Runners and informal group of folk who are responsible for the 13 mile cross country trek. In addition Ropsley Runners hold the 6 mile dash on a summer's evening. The race runs across a runnable cross country route, circular from the village of Ropsley just outside of Grantham. Eventually a small figure appeared climbing a stile in the distance, the first runner had arrived. I moved back towards the route to offer a bit of encouragement. An unidentified runner from Sleaford Striders was leading the field. I think he thought I was the race referee or something because as I clapped he slowed down, looked seriously and said, "I'm only at the front by default". Slightly perplexed I shrugged my shoulders and encouraged him on, he disappeared but perhaps lost a couple of seconds and the next runner wasn't that far behind! Soon afterwards I saw a few Grantham AC folk run by.  Ben Hatherley came through in perhaps 8th place and was looking strong and far too cheerful. Ben had obviously coped better with the previous hill reps session than I and was reaping the rewards for his intensive training.  Stuart Sinclair, Grantham AC ran past some time after struggling with lactic build up and possibly jet lagged after Christmas in Australia. I did see a few more Grantham athletes running strong races one of whom is pictured.
I started on my journey back to the finish and felt a bit envious as I watched runners bask in their post race tea and cake. The Ropsley Raid usually has an unusual memento, to compliment the sandwich and tea voucher, this year a black scarf with the inscription " I Raided Ropsley". And so it was a nice morning out. I would have rather been running and despite the subsequent cold I'm determined to keep up the speed work before London. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" or so they say...

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