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HXCL #1 Wellesley Woods - Aldershot

On a rather warm and sunny Saturday 9 Ladies and 5 Gentlemen from TRC gathered together for the start of the Hampshire Cross Country League at Wellesley Woods just outside central Aldershot.

Many of you have out your names down as potential 'maybes' to run in this league and we are hopeful you will join us at one soon. These are really good races and they are free!

For those new to HXCL, The league season usually runs from October to February, but for the 2022/2023 season it runs from November to March. It comprises five races in Hampshire and neighbouring counties - although we may have only 4 this year as there are issue with venues. At HXCL men and women run separately and in age categories starting with Under 11's, under 13's, under 15's, under 17's and seniors (which is all of us). The senior women race before the men and in previous years this has always been when the rain hit conveniently drying up for the men's team. However the men have to run significantly further than the women (9.1k compared to 5.9k this weekend) and have the added difficulty of running a course3 that every other race has churned up before them that day. I am always exceedingly grateful to be female at these races. Much like the RR10 and CC6 you don't have a bib number you collect a number based ticket at the end of the funnel which we submit on the day. You have an individual score and a team score, the first 5 finishers for men and 3 finishers for women make up your team. The lower the score the better your position.

The standard of the top runners in each race is high and you will see members who have or do run for Team GB at these events, but don't be put off. Yes there are professional athletes there but there are also hundreds of club runners too all out for the experience. Cross Country is always a good one to add into your winter training, the courses are technical especially when they are muddy and slippy with the rain and cross country running helps with your overall fitness and stamina. If like me you enjoy a muddy run these should definitely be in your calendar.

Global warming did however make a very noticeable change to this race, that of the rather warm and dry weather. Normally we are sheltering in the tent trying to stay dry and shivering, this time we were wandering around in shorts and vests complaining about the heat. It was unseasonably warm for XC race! Don't be fooled by the photo, the ladies at the front run in pants and tiny tops even if its snowed.... madness.

There's always a map sent out in advance of the race telling you the course and if you are doing a large loop, small loop, medium loop and how many of each. To this day I haven't been able to work them out, I would say follow the person in front but after the CC6 I'm not sure about this tactic anymore and may have to start studying. What I can say is we ran around and across and couple of fields, we did some woods and some hills and then we did them again! For the men they got to do them even more, they go to go past the team tent watching us relax and drink coffee three whole times the lucky things.

On a serious note (i'll try) the course for the ladies started with 1 and 3/4 times round a small field followed by a short sharp downhill into the next field and into a small trail section which doubled back on itself to open up on more flat grass. This would normally be where XC running spikes come into their own as they dig into the flat soft ground and pull you forwards, however with the lack of mud they weren't that much of an advantage on this race. We then charged back into the a small wooded section followed by more open field .... are you getting the picture now? Big open grass/supposed to be muddy sections followed by wood and trail sections. Throw in some big hills up and down and then repeat!

Ladies Senior Results

Helen Herman-Bonaer 79th

Sophie Coady 123rd

Emma Pilbeam 153rd

Mandy Jones 165th

Ann-Marie Vanderplank 180th

Lyn Hatchett 186th

Alison Kaines 187th

Rene Pilbeam 188th

Dot Kennard 189th

Mens Senior Results

Andy Gates 233rd

Mark Jones 243rd

Robbie Barlow 268th

Mike Gordon 292nd

Dennis Coady 295th

The next race for HXCL is 3rd December at Kings Park, Bournemouth. If you would like to run and haven't registered your intent let Helen Herman-Bonaer know and we can add you to the list.

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