Record Breakers at Rye
Monday 24th August 2020
With the sun rapidly gaining strength and a hilly 10 miles with 800 feet of elevation gain awaiting them, most of our contingent at the Rye 10 wondered if they had made the right call in opting to line up at the final 10am end of the staggered start rather than in one of the earlier socially-distanced waves that had set off over the preceding 90 minutes. But our results could hardly have turned out better, and PHX runners now hold both the male and female Rye 10 course records, as Rachel Gorman set a new mark of 1:05:27 - matching the achievement of Simon Heath who won last year’s race in a record time of 54:45. Bobby Searle finished just a few seconds behind Rachel and was also well inside the previous female record.
There was a slightly surreal feel to this year’s race as the staggered start meant some runners were approaching the finishing line a few yards away, and others were already done and dusted and on their way home, by the time our squad left the startline in the last wave of 12 runners. This left Rachel and Bobby with relatively few other runners to pace them, and for much of the way they had to make do with only PHX teammates Paul Wishart and Paul Whelpton for company. After a strong start Paul Wh was overhauled by the other three in the latter stages of the race, with Bobby coming from behind to close the gap on Paul Wish and Rachel and fight out a thrilling three-way battle to the line down the steeply-descending final mile. Just eleven seconds separated Paul Wish (1:05:23) Rachel and Bobby at the finishing line, with Paul Wh following them home 30 seconds behind Bobby in just over 1:06. (Given his love of race stats Paul Wh has done well to resist the temptation to investigate whether any other runner has matched his feat of finishing this race in less minutes than their age! )
In a less conventional tussle along one of the course's narrow country lanes Phil Grabsky claimed the spoils, leaving a ponderous tractor and trailer appropriately trailing in his wake, though he had to play a frustrating waiting game for a couple of minutes and narrowly escaped ending up in a roadside hedge when the opportunity eventually came to squeeze past his unwelcome rival.
There was another PHX battle of the sexes between Georgia Flowers and the seemingly ageless Andrew Haig, who finished in very creditable mid-table positions, with Georgia claiming victory over her male rival by just five seconds. Solid performances too on this challenging course from Steve Selby and Malcolm Kemp; and from Amy Gamblin and Alison Moore who both opted for a possibly wiser 9am start time. This is definitely one of those races where it helps to know when and where the next climb is about to hit you, as Steve’s training companion V45 Joe McPherson discovered, doing well to hang on in the latter stages and finish in just over 1:12.
Great to get back to real (and safely-organised) racing, even though the post-race celebrations had to be limited to brief congratulations and a socially-distanced photo of our two record breakers in the car park.