My trophy, medal and shiny new iPod shuffle :)
My first individual senior British title.
The weather may have been awful, but the British Sprint Championships was a great competition in Campbell Park in the centre of Milton Keynes. You could imagine on a bright sunny day the park might have been filled with members of the public and spectators, but unfortunately there were showers on and off all day. This meant most people sheltered in their tents and cars for as long as possible.
The races themselves made very good use of what could have been very limited urban parkland. The heats and final used different parts of the area, with a common last section and finish.
The heats took us through an urban area, with some high speed route choices through built up areas in and out of small parks. Then there was a short run along the canal under the main road and into the main parkland for a control pick through an area of woodland with a complex park network. My qualifying run was very good. Taking no chances I ran hard, and with only a small miss at number 4 (about 6 or 7 seconds), I had an almost flawless run technically. I read all the detail well and really enjoyed the course. I caught up Dave Rollins one minute at around number 17, having seen him as early as number 10.
The final was quite different, with 28 controls crammed into 3.5km there was very little time to plan ahead and constant map contact was essential. Again I ran a very good race. I ran hard from the start, and tried to read as much detail as possible all the way round. The course was very well planned and very challenging, with loads of changes of direction, cross overs and some good route choices. I had a small moment of doubt on the way to number 3, when I passed through a gap in the hedge only to find an impenetrable wall of undergrowth in front of me. On the way to number 8 I caught sight of Duncan Archer, my minute man, and I gradually reeled him in and passed him on the way to number 17. He basically decided my route choice for number 12, as he went straight over the top and I was chasing him. Nick Barrable went round and lost time. As I ran into number 12, the spectator control, they announced I was in the lead which was nice. My largest problem on the course was actually how wet it was. My choice of footwear (Adidas Swoops) lived up to their reputation of having very little grip of flat wet surfaces, and I virtually had to skate along all the footpaths. This was a major problem on the way to number 17, and I almost ended up in the hedge on a couple of occasions. The last section of the course was perhaps the most dangerous, through the complex woodland that we had already encountered in the heats. It was here that I had my only time loss. At number 21 I failed to identify which area of woodland was more dense than the rest, and ran straight past the control. Not a huge mistake, but enough to let Duncan almost catch me again. I was clean through the last section and I could tell from the commentary that as I approached the finish that I was going to take my first senior national title.
Well done to the organisers for a really enjoyable competition. The only sour note to the day was that as soon as I finished the race I was whisked off to be drugs tested along with a selection of other competitors. It is a necessary part of the sport but that does not make it any more enjoyable.