Once more into the breach went 10 cold Totton runners and one frozen chair to battle round the latest installment of the Hampshire Cross County League. It was a bitter wind that greeted us but with sunshine also breaking through it eventually made for almost pleasant running conditions. The epic battle of erecting the tent was the biggest let down as Andy W has now mastered how it’s done and provided us shelter within moments.
There were lots of different races for varying ages throughout the day and while warming up we were able to watch in awe as some very young runners came hurtling around the course as speeds only dreamed of by the rest of us. They also looked they were pained and worn out which for myself was a worry as I had never raced one of these events before and didn’t know what to expect.
The ladies senior race was off first with Dot, Donna and Teresa sensibly starting away from the front and Alice and myself lining up towards the left hand side not realising the race would be started by a man with a pistol at that exact spot. As he fired to signal the start Alice got a cheek full of heat and I went deaf in one ear which lasted a good half mile. I’m assured the start towards the back of the scrum was a lot nicer, towards the front there was much jabbing of pointy elbows, shoving and a few heel clips to contend with. Apparently the start of these races is always like this with tiny women turning into ninjas for the first few corners.
The ladies course was thankfully much shorter than the men’s but challenging nonetheless, starting with almost two laps of a small field we then plunged down a very muddy and deep embankment and into a small trail section before heading into a second field. Then came a short loop of woods before heading back into the start field for another loop, this time as we entered the second section of woodland we were sent another direction for a much longer woodland trail with hills and muddy sections to boot before finally breaking through into the top field to run for the finish.
Senior Ladies Results
Great work ladies! And now over to Andy W for the men’s!
The Men’s race start was at 14:30 & was concerning whether we had enough for a full team as was getting close. There was talk of getting Rob B Snr in a kit and walk round. Luckily Carl Shirley and Tony Lees turned up to make a team of 5. Particular heroics going to Tony after injuring his ribs recently, double checked with him that was ok to race, and considering he made it to Aldershot kind of knew he had determination to go ahead. All we had to do as a Men’s team is for us all to finish.
At the start we felt in jovial mood with the weather being kind, sunny if a bit cold and said our best wishes. The pistol gun went and we let the ruffians go ahead do their thing, running at a speed I cannot compute. We concentrated on our mini race between us.
The race consisted of 1 small lap round a field, a medium lap and 2 large laps. It meant seeing our fantastic support at least 4/5 times, with the ladies and the Chair shouting our names. Probably the trickiest section was after the 1st small lap when there was a sharp small divet to go down and go down this section again after all other laps. Plenty of obstacles on course to be wary of, what I call a proper XC course, and at last some mud!
The larger laps consisted of being in the woodlands for a bit longer with the fiddly sections of a couple bogs and roots. This route gave the opportunity not to be lapped which was quite a motivator compared to the last race. It was pretty flattish with a few little inclines just had to watch your feet, lovely course.
Carl was in the lead from TRC, ran very well and came in at a very respectable 120th position. Robbie (186) was next in and admitted was looking over his shoulder to see where I (205) was. But should not need to worry as was quite some distance away after medium lap. I was doing similar watching my back where the other 2 were. Chris (228) had a bit of a nightmare race with having curry the previous night, had to stop on final lap but got round. Tony Lees (225) was superb and done a cracking time considering running with a strain.
It was highlighted as 9.1km race but ended up being 9.4km which is expected in these type of races, perhaps not taking the 'mud lines'. Many thanks to the Chair Rob B for taking numbers at end for ladies and for the men.
Next meet is on 15th January 2022 at Reading, would be great if we could get more runners attending to make up team. However I do understand Stubbington 10k is next day and may want to prioritize this race instead. If anyone that did not get an entry for Stubby and perhaps want to have a go at a different type of 10k & try out Cross Country, come along it's a lot of fun!