I decided to drive the route the evening before, that way it would be fresh in my mind the next morning. This was a new first stage from Llanthony to Grosmont, a distance of 12.5 miles as usually the race begins in Grosmont.
Sunday morning came and I was up at 04:45 as I had to be on the road by 05:45 to be in Abergavenny for 06:15 to meet with Gwyn and Tom who were my designated support crew. I left my car in the car park and got into Gwyn's car for the final part of the journey to the slumbering village of Llanthony, where upon arrival we were met by a tree which had fallen across the road about 1 mile from the village and our start line.
The organisers made the decision to begin the race from the fallen tree, and they didn't have any other option really, and so at our designated race start time of 07:00, we were off.
The pack set off like a bunch of scalded cats, and they left me standing. There was no way I was going to be able to keep up with their pace, so all I could do was go at the fastest pace my little legs could manage.
We reached the main Hereford road, which is usually quite busy, but not at that time on a Sunday morning, and there were marshals there to ensure we crossed it safely, and I then took the country road that would take me to Grosmont.
Very quickly the roads gradient increased and my pace slowed, (I'm pretty slow on uphill sections but usually make up what I lose on the down hill stretches), and then the road would level off for a short distance before beginning to climb again, and this pretty much continued like this until I reached the right turn into Grosmont, which was then down hill all the way for the next ½ mile
Each stage has a cut off time and mine was 1 hour 53 minutes, which I was a bit concerned about making before the race so, before I started I set the estimated finishing time function on my watch for 12.5 miles, which I find a much easier way of judging my pace in a race than looking at my pace itself, and for most of the race my watch was showing me an estimated finishing time of around 01:40 , so I was well within my cut off time even if I had run the full 12.5 miles, so I wasn't really bothered that I was the last runner to finish because I knew I had completed my stage within the required time, and that was all I could do.
Once I'd finished and recovered a little, it was time to hit the road and Gwyn drove me to the next stage at Skenfrith, where I changed cars and got a lift back to Abergavenny with Gareth. I watched the next group of runners begin their stage to the village of Moat and then the Skenfrith runners as they arrived. It was then time for me to head home to shower and get some food before heading out to support my club mates along the rest of the route.
What a fabulous day that was, which we ended by meeting at the finish line at the Castell Y Bwch pub for food and drink.