It doesn't seem a year since I took out the horseless carriage and drove into the Sperrins to participate in Sperrin Harriers 5k run around Lough Fea. But a full year had passed and on Saturday I was again standing in the rugged countryside five miles uphill from Draperstown.
Last year's weather was cold but dry. This year it was not only cold but very very wet. A distinct breeze did not improve the conditions. It is easy to make little of the weather forecaster's talk of the windchill factor but if you are running through a constant drizzle with a fifteen or sixteen miles per hour wind buffeting you the headline temperature of eight degrees centigrade, (forty six degrees centigrade in proper measurement) feels much much less. By the time I came through the finish line I couldn't feel my fingers.
The race attracted eighteen more competitors than last year with one hundred and fifty hardy souls lining up. The start point for the race is quite narrow permitting no more than four or five individuals to stand next to one another. Last year the organisers placed time flags along the side of the path with people being asked to stand behind the flag that showed a time close to their estimated finishing time. This useful feature was not utilised this year. As a result there were people standing close to the front row who should clearly have been taking a position fifteen or more rows back. Even more worryingly some of those who were obviously misplaced were juniors. In a world where the mantra of, "health and safety," is bandied about and the risk of litigation is always present it might be appropriate for the organisers to control the start more effectively. The tardiness in the availability of results is also something that needs to be addressed. Thirty hours after the race I still don't know what position I finished in and who I did or did not beat.