I'd entered one round last year and needless to say it was very painful - bike failings, cramp, and an emotional roller coaster all tucked up into five laps and four hours!
This year I was planning on entering all four rounds, but was nursing a pretty life threatening illness over the first race, so had to bail on that one (man flu - treat it seriously kids...)
This year I was looking forward to racing on the new 29er - not only is it a 29er, it's also 6lb lighter than the old (steel) SS; added up this shuld make a fair difference.
The start kicked off at 0930, and with the 'finish line' being at 1330 (or in my case, 1400 as I'd managed to cross the line shortly before cut off time, allowing me another lap) I knew my legs had it cut out for them!
I'd planned to 'give it some beans for the first lap, then drop into a slog routine fr the remainder! It's a fairly tight course, and a lot of hold ups take place in the early singletrack so another target for me was to make sure I'd come and gone past the start line by the time the 2-hour racers started - it would be a faff to get into a routine only to get stuck behind a big starting group again.
I felt I was doing OK - legs were getting tired, but I was plodding on. About a third of the way into the 4th lap, the fast 2-hour guys were coming by. This can be good and bad - it gives you a target to (try to!) chase, which is a good motivator. But you also need to realise these guys are fresh off the line, and are cracking out 32 minute laps. Ergo, by trying to chase them you simply enter a world of lactic acid induced pain. It's a laugh isn't it...
I'd been managing to force gels and bars down my throat, and was feeling well hydrated, but the cramp, tiredness, and by now the pouring rain were all wearing my willpower away!
Crossing the line after my 5th lap with about 20 minutes to go meant I was in for a 6th lap. I was chuffed as last year I only managed 5, though I think the course was a tad shorter this time around.
Regardless, I was keen to finish so managed to get round one final time in 51 minutes..
Overall, I placed 19th in my cat (open male 4 hour) which I was fairly pleased with... Roll on round 3 in early Jan!