On Saturday Aidan, James A and Paul headed down to Southampton for the City Race. The assembly area was inside Solent University, which was very modern, and had a large egg in the main hall, which we couldn't figure out how to get into.
On the way to the start there were some large crowds of football fans, who seemed to find Paul's pink shorts funny, and vocalised their amusement quite loudly with some heckles.
The course itself was quite fun, moving between nice parks, housing estates and ancient mediaeval alleyways. A rainshower had made it the cobblestones pretty greasy, so there were some slightly scary corners, but everyone survived.
The course was won by A Damp Otter in 35:45. Aidan was second in 37:05, Paul third in 37:18 and James 17th in 44:24.
After we'd finished, we hung around inside for a while, poring over past November Classic maps and waiting for our friends in UBOC to make a shopping list (which took about 17 hours), piled into different cars and drove to Asda to stock up on jelly babies. After that we headed to Lyndhurst, where experienced a lovely one way system, before arriving at our accommodation for the night; the most well equipped scout hut in the world.
After getting clean enough to be accepted into society again, in true stereotypical fashion all three CUOCers pulled out some work to do while UBOC made our dinner. Aidan spent a long time proving the answer was 1, Paul spent slightly less time proving the answer was k*diag(1,1,1), and James wrote some words about humans, society, politics and science. We had dinner, which was veggie chilli, but not the approved CUOC recipe. Tom Dobra has clearly forgotton his roots. While eating pudding, we came up with several ideas for a cake slicer that would give exactly even slices, something which Paul had not quite managed to do manually. Some washing up was done, and then we went to bed.
At 03:30, Paul's alarm went off. He has no idea why, because he's never set an alarm for 03:30 before. However everyone really appreciated the chance to listen to some excellent tunes in the middle of the night.
At 07:00, Paul's alarm went off. This time it was intended, so we all got up, had porridge, packed up and left.
Sunday's race was a long distance at Acres Down and Highlands Water, which is a really nice bit of forest interspersed with some really nice bits of bog. Fiona decided to come down just for the day, and ran W21E, even though she's a W18. Meanwhile, Paul, Aidan and James ran M21E, even though they're M20s.
The courses were very long (17k and 12k) and had some decent navigational challenge to them, with some quite tricky short legs in scrubby terrain as well as the classic open woodland and heath. Aidan had trouble after eating a gel which didn't agree with him - clearly sweaty jelly babies are a better option, and the extra flavouring from bog mud just makes them perfect!
Out on the course, there were lots of animals, such as dogs, horses, deer and buzzards. CUOC advises that nature watching while racing is a bad idea, as you might run into trees, which slows you down. In the results, M21E was won by Ben Mitchell in 1:36:29; Paul was 5th, 4:22 down; Aidan was 7th, 9:46 down; and James was 13th, 25:36 down. W21E was won by Megan Carter Davies in 1:10:47; Fiona was 2nd, 4:31 down.
When everyone was done, we said goodbye to UBOC and got into the Haynes's car for the drive back. 30 minutes down the road, we got a call asking if we had some UBOC car keys. Unfortunately the answer was yes, so we turned around to meet them half way to make the exchange, before continuing back to the land of flatness.
Overall, it was a really great weekend, and CUOC recommends more people come next year. The next big chance for some delicious forest time is on Training Tour in a month - start getting excited now!