The Last Two Days
We entered Friday with tiring legs and the prospect of running just over two miles on the sandy undulations of Brickhill Woods looming before us having run every evening all week. The good thing was that in just over two miles the finish would be in sight, with just a final run round Willen Lake on Saturday between us and the finish.
Although Friday’s run is certainly hilly, it’s not the steepness that makes it hard. It is constantly either up or down, with lots of twists and turns, narrow paths and tree roots and stumps to look out for. It was a cool, dry and light evening that was actually pretty good for running a short distance and everyone wanted it over with quickly
The leaders certainly hared off up the hill at the start in the battle to not get stuck behind a rival early on as some of the paths were tricky to overtake on and the LBAC members were certainly in the mix.
Jo in particular had her best run of the tour so far with a 3rd place finish in 16:32, while Fiona was just pleased to get round in one piece. On the boys front, the four of them all finished just over a minute apart in 5th, 7th, 10th and 14th with Elliot leading the way and Andy and Tom having their best runs of the tour too.
So, going into the final race – a flat 10 “and a bit” K from Woughton Pavilion round Willen Lake and back there were battles going on for most. Elliot was 4th, with a minute in hand on 5th; Andy was 9th, but there was only 77 seconds separating 7th to 11th; Tom was pretty set in 12th with three minutes in hand on Tim, but Tim only had ten seconds back to 14th. Jo was in 36th overall with lots of chaps around her and had a twenty second advantage on the 5th placed lady as she lay 4th. Fiona meanwhile was having a battle with one of the Redway runners.
Being a Monday to Saturday event this year, it meant that we all had to wait around until Saturday evening for the finale. The start was the same as most of the others, with a friendly casual atmosphere edged with a bit of banter about what times were needed for positions to change. There were a couple of additions to the front of the field with some fast “non-tourists” mixing it up, but with ideal running conditions again we all headed off for the lake.
I’ve never really understood why they use the route they do, as it involves about 6 or 7 gates and a number of cattle grids, when most of these would be removed if we simply ran on the other side of the river. Anyhow, that’s the way it is and at least the times can be compared if it’s the same every year. What makes it interesting is seeing how these obstacles really help some and hinder others depending on the level of confidence.
The loop round the lake offered a little headwind on the way out, but thankfully it was nothing too strong and we were all on our way back soon, trying desperately to keep hold of our overall positions. Having been slightly worried that he was in danger of being caught by last year’s winner, Elliot actually ran very strongly to come home 6th (4th tourist) to extend his advantage and finish the tour in an excellent 4th place overall after finishing in 36:32.
Andy started off quickly in an effort to gain a few seconds on those ahead, but soon paid the price and struggled home in just enough time to hold on to 9th overall. Tom and Tim came in just over a minute behind Andy with Tom just 4 seconds ahead of Tim and the two of them either side of 39 minutes which consequently cemented their overall 12th and 13th respectively, although Tim was also 2nd V40 which earned him a prize.
Jo once again ran solidly to consolidate her 4th place overall with a time 44:24 and Fiona won her battle with Niam from Redway Runners to finish in 56:33. Amy Inchley also ran, having done the parkrun in the morning and was not overly enamoured with her 48 minutes, but at least it was decent mileage!
All-in-all, the tour of MK offers a great mix of running over six challenging but not exhausting days of racing. There is flat and hills, there is both on and off road but most of all it’s good fun and a great way to meet lots of other local runners of a similar standard. If you haven’t done it and fancy something different next year, then come along and get involved, you will be most welcome.