On Saturday I traveled down the M1 to Donnington Park for the Saucony English National Cross Country Championship Race. This race was to be my 12th and final cross country race of the 2015/2016 season.
This was by far the biggest race, in terms of club only runners, I have ever done and what a spectacle it was. Arrived nice and early and took in the atmosphere. We met up with my office buddy Chris Miller (Harrogate Harriers) and had a look around at the stalls and watched the earlier races.
Race time soon came round and following a good warm up and drills I made my way to my starting pen. I was joined by approx. 2000 senior men on the starting line, the line was 150m long and the starting straight to the first corner was approx. 800m. I have watch a few National XC starts on YouTube but to experience one is a totally different matter. Following the starting horn there was a massive charge down the field and I wanted to shout FREEDOM!
The race consisted of three laps (two laps for the senior ladies) with each lap being 4km (12k or 8 miles total). The first half of each lap was dry and spikes dug in nicely and made for fast racing, the second half was typical cross country mud which was sticky and heavy going even with spikes. The course itself was undulating with a few steep climbs but was runnable (even for me, hill session worked) and I particularly enjoyed the fast downhill sections. I was towards the back for the entire race, as expected, but on the last lap I played the game of catch the next person and managed to pick off three people which was deeply satisfying.
I felt good going into this race and I can honestly say I gave it my all. I am never going to win a race but I still race/run as hard as I can. Sometimes you finish a race and say to yourself “was that it” and feel unsatisfied knowing you could have given more. Occasionally you finish a race completely spent and wonder how you are going to make it back to the car. Well I was wondering how I was going to make it to the changing tent let alone the car.
What an enjoyable experience this whole cross country season has been, it’s not easy racing, there are no frills and/or goody bags just people who want to race hard and do the best they can. Saturday’s performance was my reward for the whole season, yes I’m still buzzing. I am now going to focus on gaining some road PB’s before switching to summer fells. I also look forward to the cross country season starting again later in the year where I hope to be joined by plenty of fellow Otley members.
|2016 National XC – Senior Women|
|1||0:30:35||Lillian Partridge (ALDERSHOT FARNHAM & DISTR)|
|2||0:30:45||Claire Duck (LEEDS CITY ATHLETIC CLUB)|
|3||0:30:54||Katie Holt (CITY OF STOKE AC)|
|2016 National XC – Senior Men|
|1||0:42:09||Jonathan Hay (ALDERSHOT FARNHAM & DISTR)|
|2||0:42:16||Adam Hickey (SOUTHEND ON SEA AC)|
|3||0:42:53||Nicholas Swinburn (MORPETH HARRIERS & AC)|
|1714||1:30:13||Sean O’Halloran (OTLEY AC)|
Full results can be found here www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/news/saucony-english-national-cross-country-results-2016/