Many thanks to Andy for this report on last weekend’s first XC of the season.
Last Saturday saw a group of hardy Ryde Harriers take on the challenge of the first Hampshire Cross Country League race of the season at Farley Mount, just outside Winchester. After a calm crossing, a late coach, (when called on the phone for his tardiness , the coach driver said he would be 5 minutes, and shock horror he did actually turn up within 5 minutes, which prevented me from my second cappuccino of the morning) and a few windy single lanes near the venue, which involved a few stand offs, and finally the reversing of several cars back down the lane, we made it, well within time.
The women’s race wasn’t for another three hours and the men’s race four hours away. To keep ourselves warm we had a walk of the course, which helped ease our nerves a bit. Cross Country is always a tough prospect at the best of times, especially as this course had a loop with a nasty hill near the start venturing into woodland, and some zigzagging back on ourselves a few times between the trees. This was a tough section, which opened out into a field which circled along the ridgeline, venturing back to a downhill wooded section, and back again into the field for a downhill finish.
Over the next few hours we looked at the girls and boys races. We were all very impressed with their enthusiasm and there were many good performances from island runners, many beating their PBs from last year. After consumption of some bacon sandwiches, the odd coffee and a rather long queue for the toilets, or a sneaky dash to a hedge, it was time for the women’s race and warm up for the Guys. The women’s team had just 3, who made the trip this time, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in guts and determination. Sarah Kavanagh looked strong throughout and came home in a very respectable 40th place with a time of 27.29. Next in was Tracey Dillon running her first Cross Country League race finishing in 28.52 for 62nd place, and Elaine Parry next home in 30.39 for 80th place, a considerable pb from last year’s Farley race. These performances saw the Ladies team very well placed in 10th position in their league.
Next off was the men’s team with six runners making the start line. First home was Jake Brougham in 112th with a great time of 41.09. Beating Tom Blackwell, who finished in a decent time of 43.18 and 162th. We will let Tom off his preparation for the event, due to his wedding to Sarah at the end of September. Which we are all very happy for them. Next in was Pete Young, solid as ever, in 172nd place with a time of 44.06. The last 3 Harriers used good teamwork for the first two laps of the 4, each taking it in turns to lead from the front of our intimating 3 man pack. I was still surprisingly feeling fresh and broke off at the start of the third lap, and managed to hold it on to the finish coming in 213th place with a time of 47.36. Rowland Sillito was next home, in 222nd, 48.28. A good performance after a couple of months off due to injury and on his XC debut. Last home was Trevor McAllister in 227th and 48.58. Impressive, as only a week ago he was up to his nose in muddy water for Tough Mudder and, again, he was making his Hants XC debut. These performances leave the men well placed in 3rd place in Division 3.
All that was left was a kip on the coach back, and the thought of a Saturday night sherbet or two, well earned.
The next Cross Country is on 7th November at Popham Airfield Baskingstoke. This is a challenging but great course, and if you haven’t done the Cross Country League meetings before is well worth the trip.