Race was good but slightly odd- on first leg and ended up in about 20th place going up the road from the sports centre but by Magdalen bridge was sitting right on the lead group of 5 of us with a Southampton guy, Dom Easter, Matt Grant and Ian Kimpton. Stayed on the back of that group through Christchurch Meadow and right at the end they just got away. Then on the section on the main road they pulled away but then through a narrow section came right back again and was very slow for a second so I got to join on again. Then we hit the towpath and they really shifted away from me. I was starting to die a bit and just not moving very fast and I could hear guys catching me up very gradually from halfway up the towpath. Managed to scramble up the bank just ahead of them but they almost immediately came past at the top and it was Cheggers and Andy Weir (looking very lean!). As they went past I movedd in behind them and all of a sudden no longer felt tired but like I was jogging and in a few hundred metres had caught my breath and up for the race again. We could see Matt Grant having just fallen off the back upahead. Cheggers started pushing the pace slightly as we came up to Jackdaw Lane and when we hit hte top I put a small surge in which Cheggers immediately covered. Then as we ran down to the stadium Cheggers eked out a metres advantage and entered the track first and then started to pull away on me creating a 10-15 metre gap by the 100m to go point, but the second I rounded the bend and was 60m from the finish I massively turned the afterburners on just to get a better time having already given up on catching Cheggers. Then I realised metre by metre that he was being reeled in!- Went past him with about 15m to go with no way for him to really react.
Really pleased as that was the first time in the last year I've really felt that I had my "sprint" finish and it has been a while! and a real pain to lose out races in the last 100m. Time was good and I think that I ran much better than I have since Herts County. Actually going off and trying to hang with the leaders (despite not working!) definitely made me feel much better and in a fairly tight (but small) race it meant that after they broke clear when the next runners came along I was ready for another fight to stay with them! Some of my best races seem to come this way and mentally I deal with it much easier than moving through an entire field I think despite the moving through the field way feeling much easier physically this way I actually work hard as opposed to just drifting and not really getting involved...
I think body is full recovered now anyways from the illness and this was the first race performance after it. Time was 18.17 which for the 3.59 mile course (gmap) works out that I probably went through 5k in around 15:50 which would be a PB. Quite enthusiastic for Dorney Lake on Sunday now.
Of course- the other part of the race going on with me and Cheggers was the Keble/Brasenose rivalry with two of the strongest college teams in history going head to head. I was fairly certain that myself and Tom (running a second time for his 4th leg) could cancel out Hawcroft (same as Tom) and Chetwynd and that roughly seemed to be true. The real race was on between Martin Bell (an 800m runner going fantastically well this XC/Road season) and Crispin Hetherington (the veteran warhorse who remains a constant for Brasenose whilst the rest of us pass by from year to year) of Brasenose and Garrett Ash (injured most of the term) a Blues runner and Nick Leach (triathlon captain). As it was Crispin taking off literally half a second before Nick managed to run away to a substantial advantage of a good minute and a half. Martin was then able to old off Garrett but for a few seconds leaving Tom Samuel, despite being on antibiotics and suffering with a bad foot (and exam pressure!) to cruise home for Brasenose.
Amazingly Brasenose also took 6th (I think) place overall beating a Cambridge B-team stoked by Kelly and Pattison and several top university sides with UCL refusing to believe that a college team had destroyed a major university team. The only teams to beat us were Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham, Bristol and Birmingham B which for a tiny college is an amazing result- Keble also performed valiantly and must have recorded one of the top college results of all-time.
Having not run Teddy Hall in my first two years due to injury in my first year and organising the damn thing in my second year this was a fantastic debut and to see our college side run so well was perhaps the most exciting thing!