Last weekend was my second visit to Lasswade cross country. Last year was the first time and it was a really muddy course, it was also a very challenging course with a bit of everything thrown in.
This year the course was changed slightly due to the fact that part of the route is now being converted in to a train line!
I arrived nice and early to allow me to walk the course and after registering I took a photo of the new course! It was 1 small lap followed by 3 extra large laps. The short lap was once around the football pitches and then on to the larger loop.
After walking the course I didn't see anything that concerned me other than the rocky/stone covered path which took us from bottom of the bottom loop back up toward the football fields. I was wearing my spikes again and there wasn't much grass or soft ground on either side of the path to allow me to get grip. I was just going to need to wait and see how that went during the race.
As for the rest of the course, there were some muddy sections, there were some flat fast sections and some narrow areas where overtaking may be a problem.
Standing on the start line, and I mean right on the start line, I was really looking forward to the race. There were 6 guys from Pitreavie on the start line and after a bit of pre-race banter, the gun went off and we were all racing and very quickly I was sitting 6th out of the Pitreavie guys but I didn't let this bother me. I knew a number of them had gone off too fast and I expected to be sitting 3rd out of the Pitreavie guys soon enough.
Within a mile I had caught 3 of the guys and they already looked tired, they are track runners, used to shorter distances and had gone off like rockets. The other 2 who were ahead of me have had more experience at this distance, which is 6 miles for Lasswade's race, and I wasn't sure whether I would catch either of them.
Lap after lap I could see Scott but he was always just out of reach, Ben on the other hand, I didn't see once! He has been running really well this season and has lead the guys home at every race.
During the first extra large lap I was passed by 2 other runners but I kept with them and found that I was stronger than them on the flat. This played to my strengths as there were a couple of good sections where the surface wasn't too muddy which I could stretch my legs and make a gap. I did this on each lap and started to catch others who were in front of me. I wouldn't make any ground during the bottom loop due to the mud but as long as I didn't loose ground either then it was good. Unfortunately there weren't enough loops for me to make up the distance on Scott, he had a really good run.
The hill took some pace out of my race due to my spikes not giving me much grip, if anything they made it harder to run as they were hitting the stones just under the surface, but this was the only section where not having spikes may have been an advantage.
On the final lap I had my sights set on a runner and I went after him, catching him eventually on the last climb of the course. Once I got off the stones and back on to the grass next to the football fields I gave another push and opened up a 7 second gap.
After the race a number of people said I looked pretty comfortable and I have to agree that it did feel pretty easy. I took it really easy up the hills so that I didn't get a stitch but maybe I kept too much back. I'm not sure.
I'm happy with the final position though, 25th / 86 and finished in 37:33, about 5 mins behind first place.
My next race is Glen Clova Half marathon which is tomorrow. Ran the race last year and finished 13th in 1:23:32, I would like to go faster this year, weather permitting. Just now it's looking not too bad. A WSW wind of about 6mph which isn't bad and means the wind will be on our side for most of the course. Will see what tomorrow brings!
Thanks to Steve Adam for the photos from Lasswade.