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Thread: Gaddesby Gallop

  1. #1
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    Gaddesby Gallop

    A village cross-country race; which means it is real cross-country. Footpaths across arable fields and pasture, including some with medieval ridge and furrow topography, which is interesting to run across. Only a few concessions to the modern obsession with obstacles: the Dewpond, the Drainage Pipe and the Brook. An excellent course, about 8.5km long; the only bit I didn't like was the few hundred meters of tarmac through the village of Barsby. Well organised, with half the population of Gaddesby apparently out on marshalling duties.

    Amazed myself by coming 36th out of around 190 starters, taking about 30% longer than the winner. I have no idea where this sudden turn of speed came from! I haven't managed the top half of the results list in any of the four fell races I have run this year, and have generally been nearer 50% slower than the winner; although obviously the competition has been a bit stronger in the fell races than at Gaddesby. Curiously, I seemed to be passing other runners on downhills but being passed on uphills, which is the reverse of what happens in fell races. [Note: the words "uphill" and "downhill" should be understood in their Leicestershire Wolds context.]
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  2. #2
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    Back for this year's edition of the Gaddesby Gallop, which followed two days of almost continuous rain. Strangely, the Dewpond had less water in it than last year. The Drainage Pipe had a good flow through it, but not particularly deep: enough to wash the mud off one's shoes, but not much more. But then there was the Brook. Last year, most of this was less than knee-deep, although with a section up to the thighs towards the end. This year, I stepped off the bank and went straight in up to nearly my waist. I have a slight phobia of deep water, and as I tried to steady my nerves, it didn't help that I saw runners up to their chests ahead of me. Eventually, a marshal who had noticed me standing still for quite a while suggested that I could come back out and use the footpath. I did this, and gave myself a time penalty, waiting for three runners who had gone in after me to come out ahead of me.

    After all that, I finished 11 seconds faster than last year, although in a lower position (the winner was about a minute faster). Given that the mud was worse than last year (and it's rather sticky, clayey soil around Gaddesby), the faster times seem surprising; and I certainly didn't feel that I was going particularly fast.
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

  3. #3
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    I was feeling rather p****d off. I had missed last year's Gaddesby Gallop due to a cold; In May this year, I had recovered from a calf strain, only to go down with Covid, disrupting my racing plans. Then in October, I missed another race due to mild Covid symptoms. And now it was the Thursday before the Gallop, and my nose had started running, and I had the occasional cough. It was slightly worse on Friday (yesterday), and I didn't sleep well last night; but, contrary to my normal tendencies, I decided to throw caution aside, and do the race anyway.

    Train from Loughborough to Syston reduces the mileage to be cycled on the way to the race (but not by that much, although it does eliminate the only significant hill). I arrived at Gaddesby at 9:40, for an 11:00 race start, so had time to visit the Parish Church. This is a tradition that started many years ago at Llanbedr, where I used to spend a few minutes inside the church before the start of the Llnabedr-Blaenafon and Black Mountains race. It is good to sit down in the quiet before a race and remember that God is in control; and I particularly needed it today, with the uncertainty over how my cold was going to affect me.

    The race is becoming a victim of its own success. When I ran it in 2017 and 2018, it was Entries on the Day, and there were fewer than 200 runners. This year, pre-entries closed at 300, and the course is certainly not suitable for any more. The queue at the stile, a little more than half a mile from the start, was not too bad 5 years ago, but I was waiting there for at least a minute today.

    With the rain over the last few weeks, the dewpond was deeper than on the two previous occasions that I have done the race, nearly up to the groin. However, the Gaddesby Brook responds quickly to changes in rainfall, and the last few days have been fairly dry; so it was less than knee-deep in the first section, and halfway up my thighs in the deepest part. Overall, the going was "soft"; it was a good day for mudlarks.

    I am usually good at remaining upright during races: no tumbles on reckless descents, etc. Today, all went well until less than 200 metres from the finish, where there is a narrow concrete bridge over a ditch, leading into the final field. The bridge was coated with wet mud, and I went down, leaving my right side coated with that mud.

    I got round without any serious discomfort due to my cold. The pace was certainly not storming, but neither did I feel that I was having to hold back. I haven't seen results yet, but I was certainly a few minutes slower than 5 years ago.

    After the prize giving, the sun was shining, so I cycled the whole way home (about 13 miles, including that one hill between Ratcliffe-on-the-Wreake and Sileby).
    In his lifetime he suffered from unreality, as do so many Englishmen.
    Jorge Luis Borges

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