I deliberately avoided all things XC last year due to my dislike of mud, the cold and awful memories from my school days when I’d do anything to get out of it (fake notes you name it). This year however I felt like I’d be missing out on all the stories and the laughs so I bought myself a pair of spikes and signed myself up.
Saturday 12th December saw the North Eastern Champs held in Sedgefield and after a glorious morning of parkrun at Whitley Bay I headed to Gateshead to meet Ria and Charlotte. We had a chauffeur for the day in the form of Andrew Swanston – this man deserves a medal for driving us down and standing in the cold for no other reason but to cheer on the Hoops.
As we left Gateshead and hit Washington services the skies turned an awful shade of grey. The next thing we knew it was snowing and a sense of dread filled the car! There was no sign of it letting up and as we arrived in Sedgefield the setting was beautiful – just not for standing in the cold and running for 8.3km
Luckily for us the tent was already up and we found the rest of the rabble huddled together to try and keep warm. We watched the men’s race set off and found a good place to watch (visibility however was awful in the driving snow!) but it didn’t last long and we retreated to the tent to try keep warm before our race.
Mince pies were the pre-race snack thanks to Ria Knox – I’m not sure this would be recommended but we were happy with anything given the conditions.
I took my trackies off to reveal that my feet were frozen and red before we had even left the tent and I struggled to get my spikes on – I knew then this was going to be painful.
Reluctantly we took the layers off one by one and the signal went for us to assemble at the start line. Those few seconds stood lined up felt like forever. Eventually the claxon went and we were off.
The ground was churned up from the men, but half frozen from the snowfall which made it a very odd combination to try and get some rhythm. I had decided by only about a mile in that this wasn’t going to be a race to enjoy, it was purely a massive achievement to get round without ending up on my bum. There was two lovely puddles about half way around and by this point I didn’t care and ran straight through them – this was the point where there was 2 lovely marshals who cheered everyone up and I don’t know how they were that cheery given the conditions.
Three laps seemed like torture and I was on the brink of tears/dropping out for most of it but I made it round and crossing that finish line I was pleased to have ran. I think it’ll be a while before any of us race in conditions like that again – or so I hope!
Having the men cheer us on helped massively and a huge thanks to Dave Smith and Naz Bashir who again weren’t running but came along to support. Well done to all the ladies that turned out when you so easily could have been at home enjoying the festivities – you should be very proud of yourselves.
Saltwell Ladies Results – 8.3km
The ladies team finished 15 out of 29.