I've managed to have a good chat to John Rawnsley now - and also to Rob Jebb.
Events of last week seem to have passed and I feel like the time to reflect has brought things into focus a bit more. Firstly, John's clearly very down about the whole affair... he's very keen to complete 50 events and this type of thing is obviously causing as much distress to John as the rest of us. His hands are clearly tied and he couldn't take the risk of treading on anybody's toes. It's a depressing thought that this race is on a knife edge with issues like Foot and Mouth Disease about, and no-one could guarantee against a similar fate in 2008... or beyond. We all assume that the current outbreak is still just a blip... but ...
I spent a bit of time with Rob Jebb today and aside from the obvious annoyance, he quickly pointed out that it's probably not as bad for 'us' Wheelbase riders and similar, because we get out our 'cross bikes and race them until January... some of the fell running community own cyclocross bikes purely to do this race and their numbers are larger than we think. Their bikes won't be used until next year's race. That's the strength of grip this event has.
On the up side (or is that the down side?), Rob was just flying today at the Silcoates Scramble. The course was fast, dry, and with a ten second run-up each lap - hardly Jebb territory to the type of people who think Rob's 'just a runner' (!) - he just cleared off half an hour in and that was that - won very comfortably. He wouldn't have been there, of course, were it one week before the Three Peaks, but he, like all of us, has had to rapidly adjust his plans for the next few weeks.
Rob's moving into unknown territory with a special invitation to ride the Iron Cross - the USA's answer to the Three Peaks - on October 14th. Rob's not sure how he'll get on given that he may not know the course well enough to dose his effort, but it'll be a hell of an experience, and in some way, compensate for the blow dealt in Yorkshire this year.