The penultimate round in the 2017/2018 Cornish Multi-Terrain Race Series, Meet Your Max is organised by Truro Running Club and takes runners on a testing 6.5 mile course through the countryside south-east of Truro.I have been criticised for overuse of the term "undulating" in previous race reports, but undulating really is the best word that can describe this race. Taking in a bit of tarmac, both coniferous and deciduous woodland, a section of river with low-hanging tree trunks, a brutally steep climb with steps, and very rough grassy fields, this race throws at you pretty much all that this part of Cornwall has to offer over the challenging 6.5 miles. A fine drizzle started to set in as we gathered on the startline, providing a little cool refreshment from the muggy and humid evening warmth.
The first mile of the race is deceptively fast, largely flat or downhill on tarmac. Runners jostle for position before turning onto a narrow single-file path through the woods. The forest section is great fun, with plenty of undulation, vegetation and tree roots to look out for, albeit with very little mud after the recent dry weather this year. The forest culminates in a descent to a river and a wade through greater than ankle deep muddy water, ducking beneath low-hanging tree trunks which are likely to catch the unwary, before a nice flat section of track taking runners along the estuary and towards the halfway point.
Another fine section of forest follows, this time largely coniferous and again mostly single-file and difficult to overtake. Kieran Murrant was setting the pace through this section with a train of runners following on eagerly behind, including Paul Sole and Simon Williams. The arrival of the tarmac was like the start of a motorway and everyone got the chance to try to overtake.
However three big obstacles still lie ahead. Firstly, a beastly climb up from Malpas on the steps. I found myself walking a lot of this, exhausted by pushing it maybe a bit too much along the undulating forest trails. I lost a lot of ground here and almost everyone I had been racing through the forest pulled ahead. After a steep descent, there is then a second drag up the valley on the other side, steep initially but then at a fairly gentle gradient but long. Then lastly, a very rough and uneven field where the recent dry weather had turned the churned mud into an irregular terrain as hard as concrete and partly concealed by the grass cover. This was very testing on tired legs. A final drag up the hill leads to the finish.
Despite not feeling in good shape at the moment, I was pleased to finish 3 seconds quicker than the only other time I've run this race, 2 years ago. Less than a week to go until the final race in the MTRS at Boconnoc...