Today was the first running of the JPM Hare and Hounds five mile handicap over the all-new Westminster/Three Bridges/Blackfriars route. My initial thoughts on seeing it was there were too may steps. However, having now run the course in anger I've warmed to it.
First surprise of the day for me was that despite Niall running the last H&H quicker he would be starting today nine seconds ahead. Second surprise was I was down as the fastest runner and so would be starting last. Surely some mistake?
So my expectation was for a pretty lonely run with Niall disappearing off into the distance and me finishing dead last. And one mile in with Niall now about 17 seconds ahead and no other runners in sight my prediction was looking good.
However, by mile two Niall seemed to be getting closer. And then, with the wind now behind us, running back from Vauxhall Bridge and over Lambeth Bridge I gradually bit by bit got closer until finally catching as we rounded the back of County Hall. I had just enough energy to grunt "Are you saving yourself for the last mile?" I didn't hear a reply - maybe he muttered something unprintable under his breath - I'll have to check his blog to find out.
With just over a mile to go it was then a case of keeping going and not looking back (well not until I was crossing Blackfriars Bridge). I overtook a few runners that looked kind of familiar as so I presumed were also H&H. I didn't say anything just in case.
Final uphill over Blackfriars Bridge was not as bad as I had feared. Yes I felt like my mid-morning bagel was about to make a reappearance but hey that's racing.
In the end I finished the five miles in 33:12 - an unexpected 27 seconds ahead of Niall. So I guess that goes to show running 40 mile training weeks in freezing temperatures battling against snow and ice is better race preparation than spending two weeks on an all-inclusive sun holiday. I'm glad that's been resolved...