17 January 2012

Oh my Obelisk!

The first race of the year! It should have been easy, but that Christmas period spent under the weather lingered long in my leg muscles. Our lunch runs kept on resulting in very stiff calves, but there’s worse things in the world. So on a sunny Sunday morning the usual racing duo Hugh and me drove to Dawlish to participate in the “Oh my Obelisk!” race. I’d only travelled through Dawlish by train, and had been struck by how scenic it lies there on the seaside with golden beaches and pretty red sandstone. This would be my chance to see it from closer by! And from above, as well; the race was named after an obelisk some rich chap had had built on top of a 250 m hill further inland, as a beacon for ships. A cheap and dark sort of lighthouse, in a way. So the race would start where the sea battered the coastal defences, go uphill for roughly 5.5 miles, allow you an amazing view on where you came from, and then take you back 5.5 miles downhill.

Runners doing a warming up in the cold wind, and with the sea in the background

It was a beautiful winter day; we have been lucky with the weather at our races for months! So just before the start everybody was running around and jumping up and down and doing a little dance, as we were all dressed for a race, and not for standing still waiting for the signal to sound. The wind was cold! But as soon as we set off the cold was forgotten. After about a second the same held for Hugh; he disappeared behind the horizon after no time. But I ran comfortably; deep in thought I plodded along the country roads and dirt tracks. Time went by rather fast, and when at some point the path got very steep I figured we had approached the Obelisk. And Lo! We had. It was good to see it; now I only had to run back down again. Downhill isn’t my strongest point, though, so I was quite tired in the legs, but well, an 11 miler with quite some vertical distance to cover too after an illness, that can make you tired in the legs without having to be ashamed about it. Especially if you've spent half the previous day in a gin distillery...

Finally; the obelisk!

The view from near the obelisk; in the background the river Exe can be seen flowing into the sea

On the way down I exchanged some gossip with fellow runners on which races we had done, and which ones we recommended each other; a race can be quite a social occasion. But then Dawlish came into sight again. The finish! I was met by a slightly grumpy Hugh who claimed to have already been waiting for over 15 minutes (it would turn out to have been 11) and who wasn’t entirely satisfied with his performance. I was quite happy with mine, though I realised that probably spelled bad news for my ranking. If I’m happy I haven’t exhausted myself, and have therefore been outrun by many. And it would turn out to be true! I had dramatically broken the positive trend with my poor achievement at Drogo, and only in Cockington done slightly better than that, but in Torrington I had broken my own personal worst record, and on Monday I would find out I had managed that again. I came in 159th of 239; poo! But for me it matters more that I have fun than whether I rank high. And a comparison of my speed versus my ranking in various races suggests that races like this one just attract a tougher crowd… not everybody wants to run 5.5 mile uphill, and down through the mud, in mid-January!

My race to the bottom!


lost in a forest said...

Hey Margot. The uphill bit was the most fun. I hated the downhill as I had very sore hips and loads of people trundled past me! You may have noticed me, or rather my running lycras which are a lovely purple, green and black tiger stripe! I haven't run that far in over a decade, so my two aims were to finish - check! and to run every step of the way ie no walking allowed - check! And yes that included the wooded section just before the top. Cheers, Mark Bagley. PS we have a mutual friend in Paul Newman so I have heard you name mentioned in the past. Hi!

Margot said...

Hi Mark!
Sure I remember these tights! You came running past me somewhere in the first minutes of the race. And you finished 3 minutes before me, so I don't think I've seen you since then! So well done. I suppose you may register for more now, given that it went rather well? I hope the hips are fine again!