MABAC Windsor Park 2024
As usual the first fixture of the season for the MABAC League took place at Windsor. Unusually it was held on a Saturday in February with a start time of 09:00 (MABAC races generally take place on Sundays with a start time of 10:00 - and the Windsor race normally takes place in January). These changes were made at the insistence of the Crown Estate who give us permission to race in the park, despite telling us that the changes that we had to make for last year's race (different start point resulting in shortening the course by a mile) would be the last changes that we'd have to make. That said, it is a lovely course which affords the runners the chance to spot a few royals along the route (more of that anon). Unusually for a MABAC race this is run almost all on tarmac and it is approximately 7 miles long instead of the standard MABAC 5 miles.
The course starts at the Guards Polo Club and loops around the edge of the polo field past the first of our royal viewings, the statue of Prince Albert. From there the route passes the edge of Virginia Water Polo Ground before following an undulating road through woodland to the Deer Park, from here we climb to cross the end of the Long Walk where we get a view of Windsor Castle to the right and the second of the royals, King George III on his horse, on our left. On past the Crown Estate Commissioners offices and the York Club, the route then takes in the next royal sighting, the Golden Jubilee statue of Queen Elizabeth II. We then pass into the Tolkien-esque sounding Dark Wood past The Royal School back towards the finish at the Guards Polo Club. The finish is cruel as you can see it from more than a mile out, but the route follows a long curve (passing Prince Albert for a second time) before you get there.
With the early start on a Saturday, it was always going to be a struggle to get numbers out (the parking costs don't help either!), although other clubs seem to be able to do it. A big thank you to everyone who did turn up - Ruth Willis, Gillian O'Regan, Gail Hill, Gayle Mason, Ian Burks, Paul Sapsard, Ben and Stewart Stanton, Gareth Bowers - and me of course.
Results are still being finalised but I think the finishing order was Ben, Ian, Gillian, Ruth, Stewart, Gayle, Gareth, Andrew, Paul in the 7 mile race; Gail did the shorter distance which was approximately 4 miles I believe. I think we probably finished in 6th place as a team.