I love the Dovestone Diamond, a challenging local 10k multi-terrain race I did well at last year and had bigger hopes for this time around.
Last year, I went full out not knowing the course had a brutal first 2km of climbing to get up onto the trail around Dovestone Reservoir so this year I figured that bit of knowledge would allow me to pace myself better getting up to the main flatter part of the race but by god it’s still a slog because you’ve got to go out fast to get a decent position because after 50m of road from the start you’re into a narrow, muddy path.
With that in mind, I started on the front row of the 195 starters and the initial dash certainly felt easier than last year but with Hardcastle 24 hour and Meltham Murder Maniac races in the last 10 days, I had no idea how my legs were going to fare as I don’t normally race that much.
Still, I went off fairly fast but comfortably near the front and figured I’d just run my own race and not be too concerned with the several people who passed me in the first 2km as I knew there were two points later in the course I’d catch up time by going full Forrest Gump downhill like last year.
Steady goes it
The middle few kilometres are scenic, even when the weather is a bit grim like last night and the trick once you’ve climbed up to the halfway point is to try and keep it steady which I just about did although at one point I did feel like I was going hurl which I’m putting down to it being an evening race.
I’m never keen on running late in the day!
The final dash
Heading into the final km you run down the massive grass bank at the side of the reservoir and last year I did that after spending a lot of time practicing downhill running and I made up places and put 50m between myself and the people who at the top were 50m in front of me so I knew there was scope for a good last km after last year when I kicked ridiculously early not knowing the final bit and nearly ground to a halt by the finish line .
This time, though I flew down the hill gaining a place and then kept a steady pace gaining ever so slightly on the guy in front as we closed to the finish and then got within a yard as we came out of the narrow path to the finishing area where I somehow managed to break out a sprint finish to take him on the line in a repeat of last years sprint – and in a cool twist – it was Shane Reading, the same runner I just outsprinted last year!
Last year, we battled for 25th and 26th place, this time around it was a sprint for 11th and 12th place so we certainly both had a better race!
Thrilled to finish as high as 11th in 42:46 on a tough course with two hard races in the 10 days before. That’s just over 2 minutes better than last year in similar conditions and with the winner running 37:19 and only two others running sub 40 (just! 39:49 & 39:58) that gives a feel for the difficulty of the course.
Kit wise, I ran in my Salomon Fellraisers and I’m still a bit undecided on what they’re best for. The grip is as excellent as you’d expect in mud and on grass and skittish on road but they feel like a big shoe and for shorter races I really like shoes as light as possible (I loved my Adidas XT4’s), they just give me a bit of a feeling of speed that I don’t really get although on longer runs they’re very comfortable.
Thanks as ever to all the marshals who offer encouragement the whole way around and to Greenfield Greyhounds who organised it very smoothly again and importantly got the results out quickly!
The race fills up quickly so keep an eye on the Dovestone Diamond Facebook page for next years dates and registration. Full results available here for those who’ve not seen them.