Approaching the finish line at the Cockinton Christmas Caper
After what has been a testing couple of months on the health and injury front, I, Ellie Sutcliffe, finally felt up to tackling a race on Saturday 10th December and so I opted for a fun off-roader, the Cockington Caper. Starting from the cricket ground in Cockington Country Park, near Torquay, this is a tough, hilly and very muddy 7 1/4 mile race around fields, footpaths and woodland tracks. There are logs and streams to jump, fallen tree branches to negotiate, styles to vault, some punishingly steep climbs that slow you to a fell-runner type walk, some lethal descents, and a hell of a lot of mud!
I started the race at about 70% of the fitness I was at two months agao when I did the Snowdonia Marathon and so I was faced with two choices: start steady, just canter around at a comfortable pace and enjoy being able to race again, and maybe sneak a cheeky 3rd place, or set off hard in the vain hope of trying to win it and just pray that my mental strength could somehow compensate for my lack of physical fitness.... being the nutter that I am, I opted for the latter!
It almost payed off. I led the women's race until mile 7 (whose stupid idea was it to add that extra 1/4 of a mile anyway?!) and the very last climb on the course, when I felt like I was having a minor asthma attack and simply could not get enough oxygen in to keep my pace up and fend off the talented Torbay AC athlete, Wendy Urban, who was closing in fast. She caught me at the top of the climb with just 0.10 of a mile to run to the finish. I had nothing left to come back at her with and finished 4 seconds behind her in 59.01, taking 14th place overall out of 171 finishers. Not a bad result considering the lack of training I've been able to do since the end of October, and, pleasingly, I beat the SWRR athlete, Lucy Commander, for the very first time ever... I can only think she wasn't at her best as I certainly wasn't at mine.
The race was won by Arran Tocknell, also of Torbay AC, in 50.05; this was over 5 minutes clear of the 2nd placed athlete!
Ho hum, onwards and upwards, and forwards to the First Chance 10k!