A race report of the Moonlit Flit half marathon by series silver medallist, Rhys Goodhead
After our 10 second countdown, we all bundled off and the down-hill start soon meant that people were freely galloping along the path (at one point I looked at my watch to see the front runners were trotting along at a sub 5 minute mile pace). A few early gates strung out the leaders into single file and a fairly largish bunch of about 8 (including the first lady) hit the bottom of the first hill with Peter Hawkins (new chap, down from Warwickshire to see his mum (I think)) the early front runner. Here the different strengths of the individual runners and their race approach became apparent and set the tone for the majority of the race. I attacked the hill and led up to the cross roads at the top, there Peter and James descended quicker with Tom and myself close behind (headtorches got turned on here).
We stayed in a tight 4 all along the road by the Harbourne river each taking it in turns to lead, with Tom at the front passing through the fields and over the little bridges and the main road bridge. I then pushed on up the hill from Beenleigh and enjoyed the steep descent into Washbourne (almost stacking it in the mud just before the water!) and led going up Postbox hill. Deceptively long, I tried to keep my pace constant going up the hill, with Peter close behind. A short flattening out at Rowden let James and Peter draw closer as they upped the pace, with Peter overtaking, but after the road turned and continued to climb steadily I carried on past him. By now it was pretty apparent what everyone’s strengths were and true to form as the road flattened out at the top and turned left to Allaleigh both James and Peter went past, (I think the hill is where we lost Tom (I know he was fairly under the weather), but you’d prob best ask him!). With Peter leading by 15 paces or so and James about 20 in front of me we arrived at the top of ‘charcoal burners’ and as the entry from metalled road to track was downhill the pace didn’t let up and we charged down. Feeling more comfortable off road and confident in my footing I relaxed into the decent and picked up pace, which was already rapid, with my speed (apparently) hitting 4 m/m at one point but averaging 5-5:30’s. I passed James after about 400m and with Peter not seemingly so confident off the tarmac I decided that puddles were a better option (with a probably solid bottom) than the mud in the middle and squeezed past. (Here is where it gets more difficult to describe as I was in front for this section so don’t know what happened behind or when, e.g. at 1 point I think Peter went over in one of the narrow farm ruts (James helpfully shouted “look out” as he went past apparently!)). Anyway, I then tried to maintain my momentum after that awesome downhill section and attempted stretch out the lead, helped by pushing hard on the tasty short sharp ups and sharper downs into Tuckenhay. I might have managed to open out about 50 meters but back on the road past the two pubs I was slowly getting hauled in by James. I kept in front up the long slog into Ashprington, alas no-one in the pub offered a beer and headed on east with James not shaken by my hill effort still close by. We got told we looked like a pair of Daleks on the outskirts of the village before heading down the steep field into the Sharpham estate. After we turned sharply back on ourselves, just after the 10 mile mark, James attacked in the pleasant woody tracks, strongly upping his pace (probably from 6:30’s to 6’s (ish)) and sailed past. I knew there were still a few miles left but James had pulled ahead by a good distance I didn’t recover from that burst and didn’t manage to respond up the last few tracked hills or tarmacked cycle way, to come in about 45 seconds behind him.
I’m not really sure where we left Peter or where Tom overtook him so maybe he can fill you in on that.
Hope that gives you enough of a base!
Thanks once again for organising it (with Ben). Your runs have made me run in more exciting conditions and made me look at running in an extremely different (and far more enjoyable) way to pavement pounding! Its definitely made me a better runner.