Decisions…decisions! A run of events over consecutive weekends in late May and early June forced me into some difficult choices. After a good deal of head scratching and soul searching, the Dartmoor Discovery Ultra and two out of county Audax events were pencilled in and the MMD got the boot. At just after 7:00am last Sunday morning, I watched 120+ wetsuit clad entrants surge forth into the calm waters of Mounts Bay and knew that i’d made the wrong decision…
Instead of joining in the wildly thrashing black and yellow melee, I could only trudge dolefully back along the path to the Station House pub and watch as gaps started to open between the “minnows” and the “big fish”. The fastest swimmer emerged from the water only 27 minutes after the race began, and I donned helmet and gloves and swung a leg over my “other” bike, ready to give chase. It’s got no carbon fibre or tri bars, and weighs a bit (ok, about 350lbs) more than the rest of my two-wheeled collection, but it does have some redeeming qualities…like 0-60 in around 4 seconds.
I waited until the first dozen or so had left T1 before setting off in pursuit. Soon I was chasing a few directionally-challenged riders up the dual carriageway towards Varfell, and signalling frantically for them to turn around. One quick call to Karen later, and Cris was dispatched to make sure that no one else repeated their mistake.
Being the only bike marshal meant that I had to spread myself pretty thin to cover the 2 lap bike route. I had planned to devote most of my energies to shadowing the faster riders, as they had (in theory) the most to gain by indulging in a spot of wheelsucking. Anyone foolish enough to try this nefarious practice within the limits of my cheat-o-matic radar, would surely wither under my well-rehearsed “Paddington Bear Stare”! In the event, no staring was required and draft-busting gave way to dispatch riding as I did my best to relay the current whereabouts of a certain rider who shall remain nameless (I only knew him as “114”) between each outpost on the route. This latterday Scarlet Pimpernel survived two punctures, and eventually finished the event. He can be identified on the Kazam website with relative ease – just look for the one with the biggest grin!
After five loops of the course, my fingers were numb with handlebar vibes, my bladder full, and nature’s call was starting to nag. A quick pitstop near Newbridge didn’t go unnoticed as a disembodied voice whizzing past shouted over the hedge “Oi! Time penalty for you!”.
With the front runners all homing in on T2, I tootled back to race HQ to watch the final act of MMD 2007. Nathan Jolly, last year’s victor had entered T2 with about 7 minutes over his nearest rival – history would surely repeat itself? Sadly for Nathan, it wouldn’t as Ireland’s Declan Doyle chased him down, then powered ahead to win by nearly 5 minutes. I can’t help thinking that the there-and-back nature of the run course helps pursuing runners as they can periodically go eyeball to eyeball with the person in front of them, and see just what kind of shape they’re in. Like a successful breakaway on the Tour de France, being out of visual range can make all the difference.
Over the next few hours the rest of the field came home – some limping, some full of the joys of Spring (try a bit harder next time, eh?!). Bizarrely, I found myself the most photographed athlete of the day after being nabbed to input finishers numbers and times into a Palm Pilot (the chip timing sensors were playing up). Here’s one of my many appearances:
That was it for 2007 – congrats to Tim D for his fine seventh place, Matt S for coming 12th and Shawn G for “popping his middle distance cherry” (© HFS). Is it too much to hope that “the Cornishman” will have a pic of these splendid athletes in their sport pages this week – probably it is!
Look out for the return of a full strength MBH in 2008!