Well, what a year! Many thanks to all 130 people who took part. I hope you enjoyed your day as much as I did. The weather was splendid - sunny but not too hot, the spirit as fiendly as ever, and the hospitality at the Crown afterwards a great end to the day. And to add to the interest, the competition was pretty keen too.
It was a year of a number of records and firsts. Notably, the first time we have had a bunch of solo runners tackling the whole 33 miles non-stop, which I think adds a nice new dimension to the day. Well done to the Ampthill trio who encouraged each other from Leighton to Northill. And particularly well done to Chris Taylor, who has set, I think, a very good inaugural record time of 5 hrs 20 mins. Don't be fooled into thinking it's not much further than a marathon. The combination of the rough terrain, the hills and particularly the many stiles and gates, all combine to make the challenge a lot more demanding than an unimpeded 26 miles on the road.
Chris managed to stay ahead of the field until very nearly the end; only being overtaken by four of the faster teams on the very last leg. Which indicates that the handicapping for solos (estimated on normal handicaps plus 33%) was about right. This year's new record was for handicap beating, with the combined A&FF/NHRR team coming home so early to win that they very nearly caught the finish marshal napping. It goes to show what you can do with careful team selection. Two of the team were each well over 10 minutes ahead of their handicap. I think there will be a number of new age-group bests set this year, which I will calculate shortly.
And the final First was that this is the first year I can remember without hearing of disastrous route errors. The longest detour that reached my ears was one of about 15 minutes, which is pretty tame compared to some calamities of earlier years. Perhaps we are getting the hang of this navigation business.
My thanks to the dedicated team of changeover marshals, who made the race work once again. Despite the advantages of electronic timing (which worked really well this year - I hope you managed to see the interim results at Deadman's Hill, and the nearly full splits at the Crown) I feel we need better manning than the skeleton crew that a small club like SMOC is able to muster. How would you feel about me setting entry fees next year to include the provision of a changeover marshall for, say, every second team from a club?
It was good to see the trophies going to a wide range of clubs, with Bedford and County achieving their goal of fielding the fastest team, and one of the Marshall Milton Keynes teams (Going for Golding) managing to scoop the Mixed trophy for an incredible 6th consecutive year. Ampthill and Flitwick took home the Ladies trophy. My apologies to "Fine Blend Mk VI" of MMKAC, who I overlooked at the presentation announcement, but who were in fact the 2nd Mixed team.
Make a note of Saturday 27th June for next year - always the 4th Saturday in June. I hope to see you and your friends back for another Greensand then.