A little late on the review side but here goes:
Ah yes Ryde… What better way to spend a cold, dark February morning than to journey on a boat to run up and down the hills of Isle of Wight!
Actually this race is quite fun to do. It turns the whole race into a day out, you spend time with lots of friends and get an interesting race out of it. In fact it was my fourth running of this race, but this time there was a difference. A new course (started last year) to tackle, described by those who ran it the previous year as ‘even hillier’. Oh Good.
If you are coming from Southampton then you have 2 choices of boat in the morning before the start at 11pm
Option 1: The 7:15am crossing which means a very early start and an exceedingly long wait in Ryde before the race.
Option 2: The 9:00am crossing which means after the hour trip its a rushed journey to get from Cowes to Ryde, park, collect your number and warm up.
As always we settled for Option 1!
So it was a cold, dark 6:30am pickup from Neil that started my day with Mark and Tim also in tow. I knew a few others were venturing on the early ferry so plenty of people to help kick start the morning. It was quite pretty to see the sunrise coming up as we sailed down the Solent towards the island and the as calm as it could be. There was the worry it was going to be quite blustery and the forecasts seemed to suggest some high gales later but for now it was the calm before the storm!
Even with taking a leisurely drive from the ferry terminal to Ryde it was still only 8:30, so just the 2 or so hours early!! Watching the repeat of MOTD helped to make the time pass before eventually cabin fever set in. Emily, Rosie and I decided to take a walk out towards the beach and soak up a bit of fresh air and sun that was coming through.
Following a bit of beach combing I managed to come across this huge oyster shell. Not quite the right size or weight to be used as a lucky stone in the pocket though!
Onto the race. The ‘remoteness’ of this race means that it’s not a huge field and many of my regular competitors are not there. On the start line I wasn’t quite sure what time I’d end up doing. Factor in lots of ups and downs and its hard to give yourself an average pace to target. Beating my time of 59:28 on the old course from 2014 seemed to be a fair target to go for:
Mile 1: (5:33) A rather speedy loop around the boating lake, finding out where the wind is blowing but I’m feeling fine and settled into the top 10. The speed of this mile doesn’t take into account the last 400m or so is actually going uphill.
Mile 2: (5:51) A lot of climbing up in the first half of the mile and I feel strong on the hill so push on overtaking a few faster starters and slot into 7th. A flat section follows before descending Puckpool Hill, which on the old course was nasty sting in the tail at the end. Now its a fast drop back towards the water.
Mile 3: (5:32) Along the front again and into quite a blustery wind. Pace stays good and I start to inch closer to those infront.
Mile 4: (6:15) This is all up with a few sharp corners to start. Just when you think you’ve got up a section of hill you see there is another bit climbing again. Having said that I seem stronger than the few ahead and move closer to the top 6.
Mile 5:(5:44- 5M in 28:54) Whizzing past St Helen’s Priory the group ahead comes back to me and I manage to latch onto the back of the group
Mile 6: (5:54) Epic head on winds for the first half slow the pace a little and we are all trying to find a little shelter from the wind. Thankfully a short turn and descent means there’s no more wind for while and on the uphill loop I feel strong and push on past Dan from Victory AC runner into 6th.
Mile 7: (6:04) Much more relaxed now as I stay strong on the uphill. We are returning on the same road as we went out on Mile 5 so it’s quite nice to see a few fellow Lordshillers going in the opposite direction. I fail to warn them about the impending gusts they’ll soon experience.
Mile 8: (5:36) This is an awesome rollercoaster of a mile. Some quick turns but all downhill and the speed picks up. Eventually I reach Sean from Overton towards the end of this mile and know I can push on as we approach the last of the hills ahead.
Mile 9 (6:20) A rather devious mile. Knowing there was at least one hill to go I give a good push up and as I near the top I realise there is still enough distance left to chuck in one more hill! So down we go for a short time before another climb until eventually I hit the top. Sean is still pretty close at this time so I keep needing to push it on and I feel a few tugs on my right hamstring. Not to worry- just a mile or so left.
Mile 10:(5:44) The first half of this mile is pretty flat and myself and Sean are battling it out before the descent begins. Its quite a narrow path with other users with a 90 degree turn half way down. Taking care around the corner I give a little burst of speed when the path rises for around 20m and I have an incredible tightness in that left hamstring. As a result I’m not able to push as hard down the hill as I’d like and lose 5th place. Eventually the road reaches the seafront again and its a short burst to the finish right next to boating lake.
Finish Time: 58:34 Strava Link here!
So all in all not a bad time or finishing result. A Ryde PB by a good minute on a much tougher course. Shortly following me is fellow LRR’ Dan and Neil finishes a bit further back to complete the team to finish 2nd on the day. On my warm down I retrace the last mile or so and cheer on a number of Lordshillers finishing off a set of excellent performances!
The high finish also means a pretty strong HRRL score leaving me in 13th overall. I know a few of the runners ahead of me won’t do 7 of the races this year and having already completed 7 myself I’m sure I can move up a few places and have another top 10 finish in the league. On the team side the Men’s A and B teams are looking strong, leading their divisions. The A team have a few points lead and hopefully we can keep that going until the end of the league in June.
A fun and challenging race, some surprisingly good weather (despite a bit of wind) and a good result. Well worth a try next time you journey to the Isle of Wight