The Chevin Chase is a 7 mile cross country race on boxing day in Leeds (UK) is a very competitive race and usually won by one of the Brownlee brothers who won Gold and Bronze at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon and who run for a local club but it’s mostly a good shakedown after Christmas day.
It was the first chance I’ve had to run it and in the end I managed to finish in 38th place (out of 935 finishers) and was less than 9 minutes behind two Olympic medal winners so a great day out for me!
Alistair Brownlee won in 37:03 (7 miles) and Jonny was 37:27 so my 45:54 was less than a minute behind my target of 45:00 and I was very happy to get around an undulating course (with one main climb up to the Chevin) at that pace.
My main aim for the race was to have a bit of Christmas fun and after a year of training for ultras mostly it’s the first shorter race I’ve done in ages and I swear the pain of 5 and 10k (ish) distances eclipses anything I’ve done in the ultras this year. The flat out effort is pure pain!
As it happened, I ended starting right on the front line as it was so packed I couldn’t sit back a couple of rows from the front but I’m happy going off the line at 5 min mile pace and dropping aside a couple of hundred yards down the road to avoid blocking off faster runners and went through mile 1 on the roads in 6:16 while watching the front runners disappear well into the distance!
Mile 2 was road and heading off onto some country track but still reasonably comfortable running and settling into a pack and ticked off in 6:26 and it was pretty clear my lack of speedwork was going to make this hurt a little later on but shorter races can be gutted out so on through mile 3 and some nice undulating forrest trail in 6:14 followed by mile 4 which had a good downhill stretch on a rutted track with rocks and little gullies but I love any sort of technical downhill trail so took it as an opportunity to get a bit of a breather and comfortably fly down it in 6:01.
Mile 5 is a real killer, it includes a climb up to the “Chevin” which is a ridge line where there is a single track of stone slabs lined with spectators which is great but my god by this point my legs were feeling it and the climb was hard work – shown in the 9:04 mile to the top but it was great running through a crowd like that!
Mile 6 and 7 are basically descending down along mostly road and one rutted up, puddle filled mud track but fairly uneventful but I was feeling it by this stage and eased into a 6:39 mile and then a final 5:28 mile to the finish line.
I think I was overtaken by two people in the last mile but caught one so not too unhappy overall and to finish 38th in a race that had 2 Olympians and a Team GB member was a thrill for someone of my level.
Thanks as ever to the organisers, volunteers and supporters for such a fun and well organised race.