I write this lengthy (sorry), report with a mixture of emotions due to the bizarre set of circumstances that transpired on the day of the M&DTTA Open 100 mile champs. At this point I should mention that I was also the organiser of the race as well as a participant.
The conditions were excellent as the heavy showers of the day before had rolled away and the sun came out making it very warm but not too hot. However excessive sweating can lead to problems like cramp and this was to play a crucial role later on.
WVCC had an excellent entry of 6 but unfortunately 2 of the favourites, Alistair Stanway and up and coming Geoff Mullett DNS’d due to illness. Andy Newby started but DNF’d so must have found the conditions, or his form, or both a bit too much. This left Jimmy Williams (no 49), Jim Duffy (no 60) & myself (no 73), to make up an excellent team for the champs.
The course was a 30 mile route covered fully three times with a final 10 mile part leg, down our familiar A50 stretch to Knutsford, around Booths Hall Island and back to finish at Allostock bends. This made it easy for the riders to check progress against others as the field crossed on the Booths Hall leg, the Chelford A535 leg and then again on a short leg from Holmes Chapel to the M6 (Jct 18) and back.
I crossed Jimmy Williams and gave him a shout as he settled in to the distance which for him would be his last long ride before tapering for the 24 hour in 2 weeks time, so he was not out to break any records today. I also encouraged Jim Duffy as we crossed near the Whipping Stocks pub, but also checked my Garmin so I could do a rough split at Booths Hall. He was going for it, putting this year’s excellent form to work, as he was already about 30 odd seconds up on me at just under 10 miles.
We crossed again at Jodrell Bank at around 23 miles in for Jim and he had extended that lead to about a minute and he was looking great with his full race face on. I was tempted to lift the pace but I know my current form is improving but I don’t have many long rides in my legs so kept a lid on it for later. I was however conscious of the fact that I would have to stop at least once for new bottles at the bottle table in Twemlow Lane as Caroline was working so I was self supported. Jim had his brother handing up fresh bottles so these valuable seconds could make a difference.
The difference in pace continued through to the official 50 mile timekeeper check point with Jim recording a fantastic 2:05:39 to my 2:07:59 so my 15 seconds or so stop for bottles at 44 miles had cost me a little time but the bulk of the 2:20 difference was down to Jim’s hard work. I felt good though at 50 miles and I have ridden many 100’s over the years as this is my favourite distance, so I was confident that I wouldn’t completely fall to pieces later on so long as I didn’t over cook it now. However I was also aware that Jim is a man on the way up as he is flying this year, so maybe his regular long club runs would make all of the difference??
My focus sharpened as we crossed for the 3rd time on the A50 as Jim’s lead had reduced, but at this stage not by much. My quads were starting to twinge with cramp but I could still maintain a decent average of between 22 & 23 mph without putting too much pressure on my protesting leg muscles. The last 30 mile lap would be about damage limitation for both parties as unbeknown to me Jim was also suffering the onset of leg cramps. I also stopped for a second time to get one last bottle but ironically I didn’t actually use it. This only cost me a very few seconds though. One lap later we crossed at the Whipping Stocks for the final time and Jim was visibly suffering so I had to keep the mental pressure on myself but at this stage I couldn’t have upped the pace as my legs were also starting to cramp up and any sudden effort would have finished me off.
The finish line was a welcome sight but back in the HQ the atmosphere was a little less welcoming. The times were slow coming through but more worryingly there were several complaints about incorrect times and also several gaps on the board for riders who had finished. To cut an equally long story short, the timekeeper had got himself in a muddle due to many riders not shouting their numbers when they had finished and several back numbers being missed for various reasons. Unfortunately he didn’t have times at all for me and Jim Duffy. All was not lost though as he had taken splits for every finisher so by a long 2 day process of deduction and various phone calls to riders to check who had caught who, we now have a confirmed result as follows:
Winner of the event was Ben Norbury of Congleton CC taking is first open win with a fantastic course record of 3:52:44. In third place in the WVCC champs & 40th overall Jimmy Williams recorded a solid 4:53:32. Jim Duffy hung on and finished despite serious cramps in the last few miles and knocked approximately 10 minutes off his PB with an excellent 4:22:32 taking the silver medal and 21st place in the race overall. I stopped the clock one agonising second quicker with a 4:22:31!!!
I have very mixed emotions about taking the win as on the one hand I worked flipping hard for it, but on the other hand I feel for Jim who is having a great year and is on the cusp of taking the first of many club championship wins. On the day the best man lost but by thousandths of a mile per hour but he put his heart and soul into his ride and showed real guts and determination. This was possibly the best sprint that never happened in a club championship, won by the worst sprinter in the World.