Dave Powner Reports: I arrived at Coneygre Community Centre still suffering from the sunburn accrued in the BBCHM four days earlier, along a route intersecting with this one.
After applying a small amount of sunblock to the more deserving areas, I surveyed what I could see of the uncharted part of the route, and selected my trail shoes over my road shoes.
The first mile involved a couple of laps around the fields within the centre, followed by a short, moist dirt track leading onto the canal. I completed the first half-mile a bit faster than intended, but then eased into the right pace.
After two miles, we hit the end of the Dudley canal, and turned onto the Birmingham canal, in the opposite direction to my previous race’s route. The temperature on this occasion was much more comfortable, but there was a noticeable headwind. After overtaking a couple of runners who were easing off, I found myself with no runners to hide behind. The next runner was around 30 seconds ahead, so I decided to play it safe, and accept a slower pace against the wind, for a mile or so until we turned off again.
Regular canal runners will be familiar with the decision process when approaching people who are fishing with rods. Namely “Leap or Limbo?” Fortunately the constant stream of runners that had passed over the previous few minutes must have encouraged this group of kids to up-sticks, although it was slightly more nerve wracking, as they seemed unable to hold still their rods and dangling hooks.
We turned back onto the Dudley canal, away from the headwind with about a mile and a half to go, and I felt good. So I picked up the pace, now confident that I could take a sizeable chunk off my 5 mile PB. The final 400 yards took me back along the moist track and into the field, for half a lap before the cheery crowd around the finish line.
The goody bag included a mars bar, and some other yellowish, sticky, nice sweet snack. A pen was also included, alongside a small metal tag which serves no apparent purpose. There was also this quarter’s RunABC, of which I now have three copies. The main prize in the bag though, was a bottle of ale. This came in rather handy while at Dudley Port train station; I had 30 minutes to while away because I missed my train home when it left a minute early. It was nice to be able to celebrate so soon after the event!