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DATE:           05 May 2004
Down Grange Sports Complex, Basingstoke
A whole months worth of training was up. The time had come to settle this challange once and for all.
With a reported 1000 men and boys taking part the real interest was clearly on the 7 runners who had all put their money where their mouths were. It was time for the talk to stop and the legs to back up the claims.
Of course in the case, there were not many claims to live up to. No one was giving anything away not even on the day. Everyone claiming they didn't stand a chance of walking away with the Run4Fun "Got Your Number" Winners Trophy.
The rain was holding off but with constant rain over the last few days the course was going to be very heavy under foot. The final odds that saw Dave as favourite seemed to be well backed as the SilverFox stood quietly relaxing, clearly confident. But there is always a side issue with Dave, and this time it was the fact that he was going to have to carry his mobile phone around with him. Yeap Dave was on call at work. Dave's excuses were all ready written, was he to get a call during the race ??? But Dave always has his excuses ready. It would of course have been bad form for one of us to pass his number on to say, a spectator and ask them to ring it half way round the I did...and they did. We were asked to the centre of the running track ages before the off. A promised warm up didn't seem to be anywhere near happening, and so the 7 went about getting ourselves ready. Suddenly the laughter was stopping, it was getting close, it was getting to the serious stage. Matt seemed to be phased out by The Ginge being able to touch his toes with ease during his warm up. Then some bloke came onto the main stage and took the mic. He preceeded to talk everyone through a warm up that must have been designed to make everyone look stupid. Shadow boxing seemed to be the theme of the organised warm up, but with pretty much everyone planning to use their legs to get them round the course, we all kept to our own warm up techniques, apart from Rob who seemed to reveal in his Riddick Bowe impressions.
Finally the time had come. It was race time.
We were all asked to make our way on to the track. A semi circle of ballons were waiting to be let off over the start line as we all set off. We joked about how many people would get caught or tangled by one and end up falling over. But as the race started I got worse. As the 7 of us finally got to the start line and came running through I got a punch on the face by a steward losing control of the ballons which hadn't gone anywhere, let alone the big planned spectacular start to the event. The start was packed and coming up to the first quick sharp bend it was more a case of keeping your feet than racing ahead. But racing ahead was exactly what Rob and Matt had been able to do, the rest of us were already someway behind caught in crowd congestion. We finally all got round the corner and there was at last some room to open the legs a bit.
And from here on, it was every man for himself.
The Ginge and Daz set off at their planned pace. I couldn't tell you who stayed with us and who didn't. Simply because turning round and seeing would have meant running into someone at that early stage, and having already taken a punch in the face, I wasn't up for any more incidents.
The course was, as expected, heavy under foot. The grass parts of the course were churning up very quickly and it was becoming slippery under foot as well as muddy. Within a few minutes the runners were starting to spread out. Daz and The Ginge were able to keep the pace they had started at. The bookies favourite, Dave was never seen again, maybe he had recieved a call from work????
So by the first 5 minutes Rob was still in front with Matt somewhere behind him. Short of that I have no idea, there were too many people around. As a result I am not really able to tell you how everyone else ran the race. All I can tell you is, round about the 5/6 minute mark, Ginge and Daz finally passed Matt who looked like he was keeping a good early pace. His training clearly helping, soon after we went past Rob, who had got a lot further in front that we thought. His early tactic was to simply get away from the crowd as quick as possible so he could get into a pace and stay with it. It looked like it had worked.
From there on in, it was a race for 1st and 2nd between Ginge and Daz, both sticking to the early set pace.
We then got to the three quarter mark and the pain suddenly set in for The Ginge. The right calf muscle started to tighten up, the heavy mud in that part of the course suddenly took it's toll. Daz on the other hand, kept going. Ginge let off the pace a bit hoping to find something later on safe in the knowledge that 2nd was more than safe now. But it was to prove the wrong tactic. Daz simply didn't let up and within 2 minutes was now too far ahead unless the injury in his knee was going to suddenly play it's part.
It didn't. He continued to head towards the finish line not relenting one bit. We entered the main arena area once again, one lap of the running track and we were done.
Daz charged round showing no signs of pain or his injury. He later told me he had start to feel it just over half way round, but refused to let it effect his race. He also thought I was still pretty much on his shoulder until we got into the arena. Little did he know he had won the race a few minutes back. I had got my tactics and race distances badly wrong, Daz had got them spot on. Daz crossed the line in an amazing 22 minutes. 10 minutes off his best training time. I finally followed him over the line with a finish time of 23 minutes. The title had gone to Daz.
Rob and Matt had linked up just over three quarters round I believe and both stayed together crossing the line in an excellent time of 24.58. Rob had suppassed anything he thought possible having not actually done any training. Matt's training had paid off and given him an excellent time. Dave came in 5th with a time of 26 minutes, Jon was 6th finishing in 27 minutes and Will came in to collect the wooden spoon but clocked up a very impressive time of 28 minutes. We had all come in under the 30 minute mark. Something we didn't think was possible at the start of the race.
So there we have it, that was The Run4Fun 2004. Will we all be back next year for another shot at the title? Many have said no, but I think come nearer the time, we will all be up for it again. It was an excellent evening, a huge crowd cheering everyone on, the atmosphere made it really enjoyable and the pain was worth it.
But it was Daz's evening clocking up an awesome time, running a fantastic race and rightly taking the trophy.
All that's left for us to do now is to get ourselves down a curry house for a presentaion night so we can officially award Daz with the trophy.