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HXCL Popham Airfield!

The Hampshire Cross Country League for 2022 came to a sadly premature end on a cold, blustery and wet Saturday in February due to issues with the final event. But it made sure it was a good one and lived up to all the required cross country codes of practice...... WET (but dry for the mens race), cold (with added sleet), wind (that again went away for the mens race) and mud (defo the worst mud we had seen in a HXCL race this year.

For my own part I should have listened to the gods who were clearly trying to tell me something when making my way there down some tiny country lanes (thanks Google maps) my windscreen wiper fell off. Queue me in my fancy new dry robe giving myself a DIY course in how to reattach a windscreen wiper to a car I had only had for 24 hours. I prevailed! As I arrived at the Airfield I was greeted by a marshal who rather too cheerily told me there was a queue for the car park as the original exit was flooded so all cars were using the same route to enter and exit. ALARM BELLS RINGING!!!! The next hint was the walk to the tent area, by walk I mean a slide with no grace or finesse through some sludge followed by a weird waddle looking like I was missing a donkey until I almost fell into Captain Andy and the joy of putting the tent up. (OK i'll be honest I didn't put the tent up I think I almost died trying to walk to the loo in the mud while the tent was put up). By put up i'm sure you've all seen the videos on the group page of the tent bent double in the wind and waving around like a made man..... did I mention the wind?

With the team arrived the ladies set off for a warm up, and it started to sleet and the wind got worse....... we're not joking when we say at every XC event the weather is at its worst for the senior ladies race and then brightens up for the senior male race! But to weigh up the balance we don't have to run as far as the men so I should stop moaning (notice I said should not would). Warm up complete and feeling colder than ever we peeled off the last few layers and made our way to the start line...start bit of muddy puddle.

The course was .... wait for it.... enjoyable! In comparison to some of the other much more challenging courses we have covered this year. There were no horrifically steep hills to run up that sapped your breath and will to live, there was only one small dodgy will I break a leg down hill. We started with a big slop through the mud into the top field for a small loop to the top before turning back down, the up hill in this segment was gentle on the up and added some speed on the way down and out the field. Next up was the only leg breaking downhill that 2 steps cleared, it was the staying upright at the end that was the issue. Once through it was into a small wooded but with as you may have guessed more mud before popping out the other side and onto the big loop. A bit of a out and back on ourselves bit before a long gentle uphill drag to the to of the field, I was expecting this bit to be awful as it was into a head wind but fortunately there must have been a buffer somewhere as it wasn't that bad. This took us to the top of the field where we turned and ran back down, where we promptly turned once more and ran back up the long hill. (i'm getting tired just thinking about it now I write it up). Once we got to the top of the hill...... yep.... we ran down it again, a really nice long downhill to get back to the start and onto lap 2 of the same. Which meant that on the second the lap this was a great finish to come stomping home on with cheers from the mens team!

With all the ladies in and pulling on all the warm clothes they could muster the mens team were warming up and getting ready for the off! Same course only more times.... and did I mention the better weather ...ahem.

As the final race of the year it was a good one to end on with everyone putting in a strong performance as enjoying themselves despite the mud or should I say because of the mud, we all have an inner child when it comes to these races.

Women's Placing

31st Alice Birch

41st Helen Bonaer

72nd Sophie Coady

78th Patricia Spodzieja

105th Donna Pike

106th Teresa Dodkin

108th Samantha Bowyer

109th Dot Kennard

111th Anne-Marie Vanderplank

113th Alison Kaines

Men's Placing

99th Carl Shirley

148th Chris Barnes

151st Andy Warren

160th Robbie Barlow

193rd Tony Lees

These really are great events where you get to compete against many other clubs, you can also watch all the different age group races and the youngsters are super impressive. These races and our participation in them will return next year. So look out next winter and come get muddy.

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