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HXCL #4 Popham Airfield

The Penultimate race in the Hampshire Cross Country League saw a return to Popham Airfield Just North of Winchester and a very different set of weather conditions compared to the event there last year. Last year the mud was a liquid stream all the way down the tent and start area and the wind was so bad our chair was having to hold the tent in place to stop it blowing away! This year was calm and dry and the ground was firm under foot, great conditions for a XC race.

There are many in the club who haven't yet attended a Hampshire cross country league race and I can say is you're missing out big time. Many put their names down just on the off the chance they would make one, and I can't say enough how much you should come along and see what they are all about. Unlike most races they are held on a Saturday and are broken down into male and female and age category races so there are lots of races going on on the day. If you get there early enough you can be amazed at the talent zooming past in the under 13s races and see the Olympians of the future in action. The standard of competitor at the front is very high as these races are often used as a qualifier to get into team GB. For us though they are great races for building strength in running, XC builds strength - FACT. Doing it with friends surrounded by all the show of the fair is fun - ALSO FACT. Sometimes there's Cake and a burger van - AN EVEN BETTER FACT.

The races we compete in are the Senior, veteran and Under 20s Women's & Men's. The women admittedly have the easy time of it with our races being up to 4 miles / 6k at the very most. The men unfortunately are really put through their paces and run approx. 6 miles / 10k which is an absolute slog fest. This is the one time in my life I'm ok to not have equal rights. We have one race left and it would be great to have you all along, its on the Saturday 4th March at Kings Park Bournemouth, womens race is first at 13:35 and i'm usually there about an hour before hand to put the tent and flag up. If you have already given me your details then you just turn up and run. If you haven't registered I will need your UKA number and DOB before hand. You don't have to pay anything it is paid for by the club so its ANOTHER FREE RACE!

So Popham! It wasn't a recreation of Glastonbury, the ground was good, the weather was on our side it was almost magical. There's differing opinions on this course, As I'm the one waffling on you get mine. I really like this one because all the hills are gentle, they may drag on but none of them are steep thigh battering hills that make you want to walk. The course starts on a gentle downhill with a lap around a smaller field before a very small up and then down hill and into the woods. These short up and downs are great for taking places if you can throw yourself up and down them at speed and recover in the next section. The woods are the challenging bit because there are a lot of roots to navigate and try no top get your spikes stuck in (if you're wearing them, they aren't compulsory. I just wanted an excuse for more shoes). Once you wind through the woods you're out into the big filed where there is a lot of running up the field (gentle hill) and then down the field (the hill), then up the hill and down the hill ... you get the idea. On the last down hill you repeat it all again! The benefit of this is its a long downhill finish which is always welcome!

The ladies race saw what I think was the best finish from any of our runners this season. Lyn Hatchet and Donna Pike were coming down the finish straight with an Eastleigh runner just in front of them. There was definitely some telepathy going on as they both went for it at the same time and powered past the Eastleigh lady who didn't stand a chance and had no hope of catching their thunderous finish. Truly Epic, well done ladies.

Another great of watching team Totton in action at any HXCL race is watching our V70s take to the field. Rene Pilbeam, Denis Coady and Mike Mills are all legends in their own right and to watch them power on through the race is truly inspiring! I said XC makes you stronger and Rene did take home a gold medal in the XC in the county Championships year as proof of that!

The Geeky Stats Bit

So where are we in the standings for the league? The results for the men's overall is split into team categories of Senior Men's which has 3 divisions and veterans men's, then the same for individual scoring where the top 10 are listed. For women's is the roughly the same but there aren't divisions like in the men's.

With One race to go the Women's team at 10th overall and 5th overall in the veterans league. The men are in division 3 and 5th overall and the veterans are 18th overall. We currently have one runner in top 10 individual score with 1 race to go.

So... what are you waiting for? come along!

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