Today was my third Box Hill fell race. I clocked 62.52 in 2008, 57.23 in 2011. I was quicker still today, breaking the line in 55,45. With this rate of progress, I’ll break the course record in about 2017. Every runner wants to develop, to be faster, but it doesn’t get any easier.
I strode up the initial incline vying for 3rd place; two runners at the front had already detached themselves from the field. By the top of the hill, I had drifted to 5th. Seconds later – upon reaching the bottom of the first descent – I was battling to stay in the top-10: a cautious plunge the cause of my downfall.
We contoured the southern slopes of Box Hill, then were sent on a steep downhill section again. Having reeled in all the runners who had spilled in front of me during the first coming down, the same vests repeated the trick on this one. It was a pattern that continued race-long.
Each time, it was harder to catch those in front. Eventually, after another series of thigh-battering descents, they were too far away to catch. By the time I found myself descending steps (dog-hurdling required here) to Headley Common Road for the second time, it was those behind me that had became a more pressing concern.
The ups weren’t much easier. After the skywards Box Hill blast, followed by two sharp descents, along with lots of fast, flat terrain in between, the second major ascent on the course – through an avenue of trees – was the hardest of the race. It is every year.
I was soon walking, musing how in 30 miles of running six days earlier I hadn’t walked a step on a hill, yet 15 minutes into the Box Hill fell race I had already succumbed to that insatiable desire to stop running. There, I suppose, lies the irony of running and racing. Sometimes it’s a battle; sometimes you’ve got to just ‘hang in there’. That was today.
UPDATE – 25.1.12: Results online here.