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HXCL Prospect Park - Reading

Saturday 15th January 2022 saw the next instalment of the Hampshire Cross Country League…… held in Berkshire…..attended by clubs from Hampshire, Berkshire, ……and Dorset? Yeah ….. I’m confused too. But at least it wasn’t raining.

Previous rain had however ensured there was mud in plentiful supply, we joined the slip and slide from the car park to the tent field for set up, with our freshly cleaned tent all ready to be um, covered in mud again. (Thanks Andy). The ladies team then got to do the usual and join the world’s longest toilet que, this being full of senior women all missing warm up time there was a warm up routine running up and down the line like some weird gym class. Backed up with much grumbling about how everyone wished they could wee against a tree like all the men.

The ladies were up first and diligently slipped their way over to the start line ready for the off of what was billed as a 6k route. We set off down through the park turning right at the end in a big curve before coming back towards the ‘big posh house’ and what I can only refer to as the big beastie hill. It was one of those fairly sharp, steep muddy hills that made you lose the will to live just past half way, and we ended up doing it twice. Although we really can’t complain as when the men got to this hill they had to run past up another one, immediately down again landing them at the bottom of the big beastie which they then had to go up….. and they did this twice. So they win on that one by a long way.

As we know what goes up must come down, and the down on this course was something you had to see to believe. A short but steep downhill that was caked in slippery mud with craters in the surface, it was your average cross country death trap …. And I loved it. When I approached it the sides of the hill were full of ladies trying to get down without falling over, there were many yelps and it was turning into a bottleneck. Not wanting to lose time, momentum or places I decided for the headless chicken approach. Head down, lengthen your stride, let go of gravity and hurl yourself straight down the middle hoping you don’t die. The result… I’m alive and gained a few places on the way down. I also shocked the marshal at the bottom as I giggled manically on my way past, weirdly no-one followed suit. After this near death experience has been completed twice it was a big loop of the field and on rounding the corner at just under 5k on the watch the finish line was in sight. I’m not sure what happened the last 1k of the route but the means was short too so we all gained.

Once the ladies were all in and wrapped once more in warm layers it was time for the men’s race to start. There are always more men in the senior’s race and this one was no exception as hundreds of them poured though the start line. The men’s course was like the women’s course only on steroids and longer, and it had got colder. As a testament to how tough the male course was the field by the second lap was so strung out everyone had space in front and behind them, it was just crazy. HXCL races always make me very happy to be female (well apart from the toilet part).

Everyone male and female made it round and there were smiles afterwards so all in all another successful outing for team Totton, and once again our chair was on the side-lines with a big cheer for all as we went past.


Anyone who is loving the sound of mud and near death experiences whilst wearing lycra is in luck as there is 1 more HXCL race left of the season on Saturday 19th February 2022. Please see the events pages for details!

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