I drove up with Fred and his daughter Aofie who was running in the U17 race. Conditions on the day were good again – mild, dry (the skies at least, not underfoot) and not a whiff of wind.
Gemma took the win in the womens race with another great performance, and second place went to Sandra in her debut xc race – a fantastic achievement. Jacqui came in third and Sarah fourth to record a great team performance which solidifies our 16th position in the league (out of 37 clubs)
Then there was a great moment at the start of the men’s race when the last 2 runners in the women’s race went past and received rapturous applause from all of the male runners on the start line. This was then followed by a comical moment when the starting gun went off any everyone was suddenly turning round and charging up the field leaving Jim and I to wait the 2 and a half minutes before we set off from the medium pack.
The start line was further down than last year which meant a slightly longer incline before a sharp left hand turn and long straight where we could see the back of the pack.
Its very different starting from the medium pack as opposed to the slow pack. Generally speaking the best way to run a race is not making the classic mistake of starting too fast then blowing up later in the race but rather to try to maintain an even pace throughout the race.
In cross country races where there is no chip timing this rule goes out of the window and the strategy everyone from the slow pack who wants to run a fast race adopts is to try and get as close to the start of the line and then sprint off to try and gap everyone else. The main reason for this is that it can be incredibly difficult to get past people especially on narrower courses where there are bottlenecks and you can waste a lot of time and energy doing so. Imagine Mo Farah starting at the back of the Great North run and trying to get past 56,000 people.
So running from the medium pack it isn’t as important to follow this strategy because there are fewer runners, however you soon catch the back end of the slow pack and then the ducking and diving begins.
The course is a figure of 8 with the first half being pretty straightforward – the ground was softer and muddier than last year although no as muddier than Aykley.
After a short stretch along a cinder path the course takes a sharp turn downhill and I decided to run outside the course markers through the long grass so I could get a clear run and avoid the other runners trying to navigate the thick mud on the main route. There is then a short incline, followed by a steeper incline on another cinder path through the woods and over a few bridges at the top. This is another bottleneck on the course and very difficult to get past people so I just had to sit tight until I got to the top and was able to get a bit more room.
There’s then a flat muddy section and your back at the start again, ready to do it all again another 2 times.
I have to say I felt a lot better during the race this week than I did on last weeks run, especially on the 2nd lap. I can’t say this was down to anything in particular – sometimes that’s just the way things work out.
As the laps went by the field started to thin out a little so it makes it a little easier to get past people, but then you also have people from the fast pack coming through too so its a bit of a free for all.
In the end I caught everyone apart from Fred again, although I was a bit closer to him this week – I’ve got him in my sights for Jarrow 🙂
Ben pipped Dave this time to come in third, with Dave following closely behind to take 4th place. Jim and Iain were our remaining counters.
As a team we finished 7th, which is the best so far but we’re still rooted to the bottom of the league so the next few races are going to be critical if we want to avoid relegation.
Results can be found here