Reasonable performance but poor time from me I'm afraid. Course was much tougher than I remembered and the conditions were awful. Constant rain and fairly high wind speeds.
Got absolutely soaked walking about a km to the start and didn't have anything to change into so ended up spending ~ hour in wet clothes before the race- didn't do much of a warm up as conditions were so poor- still had a little stiffnes in my groin and hamstrings due to the 5k XC race yesterday. Set off and two runners disappeared off into the distance (I'll leave you to guess who!) leaving me in about 15th place - I went past my original two guides for ~72/73 minutes ( this guy Andy - 72:46 and Grant- 2:37) and a lot of other runners very quickly. Thankfully one of my friends from yesterday was pacing me to half way so I always had company. The miles were badly out so won't bother you with too many of the splits
First few miles were mostly uphill and tough work- I found myself in 5th fairly quickly with 4th about 30m ahead and 3rd Chris - 14:50 5k / 31:40 10k/ 21st National XC! similar. and around 3/4 miles we entered a strong headwind and my mate started pushing- went with him and he pulled me up to 4th very quickly and onto 3rd place who we steadily caught up with over the next mile until at around 5 miles we caught him- he slowed slightly and I could hear 5th coming up beind fairly quick. My mate was quite keen for me to push on but he was dropping out in about a miles time and on this horrible day I was going to struggle running on my own in the second half - went through 6 miles in just under 34 minutes.I was feeling very comfortable still (aerobically was comfortable) - our group of three with me and Chris running pretty much level and 5th just off the back stayed together for about another 1.5 miles and then Chris started pushing on a long uphill drag and whilst my lungs were fine- my legs struggled with the extra pace and I dropped a metre or two back and tucked in behind 5th place.
I saw the gap was only ~10-20m so wasn't too worried but as I stayed behind 5th he kept on moving away and didn't realise just how much he was getting away- was planning to try and kick on at 10 miles (very pleased when I went through in a 56:1x PB and knew I had the sub 75 in the bag) and in retrospect after taking a quick recovery behind 5th I should have tried kicking on much earlier but in horrible conditions I lost a bit of nerve - right on ten miles though you go into the worst headwind in the course so I stayed tucked in and didn't kick on till mile 11- then went pretty well (got away from 5th without an issue) and was reeling in 11th but by now he was well clear ~180m I'd guess without me realising at all- reeled in a few seconds and cut him down to 28 seconds but finish came too quickly.
Odd race- final time of 73:50- which on the whole is a bit disappointing. On the other hand I don't think it's a particularly representative time (the runners I was planning to use as guides for 72/73 finished in 77 and 79 minutes, Chris has run 71:27 before, my friend who ran 59:07 at the BMAF champs in Portland for 10 miles finished outside 80 minutes) and to be as close to an athlete as good as Chris was very promising. The weather was horrendous and the course much worse than I expected- on the whole I'm relatively pleased with the performance, especially with the flat-out 5km yesterday, and as my second completed HM it's ~4 minute PB on the same course in the same conditions 4 years ago. At the 6 stage 4 years ago I ran 20:10 (awesome run) and this year I ran 19:47 so the difference over 6k isn't necessarily huge but over HM it's substantial showing my improved endurance.
Really not sure what it's worth on the "comparison-meter" - estimates ranged from a minute to up to 4 minutes! As it is am very enthusiastic for my next HM where I think on a decent course with decent weather I can aim for 71.
Finally I have to say an absolutely huge thank you to Lee for getting me around the first half- if I'd been on my own I would have shot off after 3rd place way too hard and early but Lee steadily worked me up there and took the wind when it was at it's worst. Couldn't ask for a better pacer or friend to come out there in that weather and help out.