11th February 2017 – venue: Foot Crays Meadows, Sidcup
I was delighted to finish this 4 race league on a high with my highest position to date (37th) in a time of 33:59. This was the first time that I have raced at this venue and the first time that I have competed in all 4 races, having missed the final race of the 2015/16 season due to attending a stag-do in Brussels. The course was relatively flat with only a couple of mild undulations and no hills – with the exception of many mole hills! The weather was very cold, having snowed earlier that morning although this had cleared by the time of the race and it was in fact dry and bright. The senior mens race was 2 laps over a distance of 10km (although my watch made it closer to 9km), with the senior women competing beforehand in a one lap, 5km race.
Unfortunately, my preparation for the race wasn’t the best as I had been volunteering at Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun in the morning and only left Dunorlan Park at 10.45am. I also had to fill my car up with petrol and tackle the A21 / M25 but luckily the traffic wasn’t too bad. I arrived at the venue at midday to find the car park full but managed to find a space on a residential road nearby. The walk to the start took about 10 minutes and by the time I had changed and pinned on my number I only had time for a 2 minute “warm-up”. I decided to take the first couple of miles steady and managed to get into a good rhythm quite early on, in fact running with a few guys from my club (Tonbridge AC) which I found a great help. The support from fellow club members and Team Manager on the day, Diane Bradley was a great boost and despite my initial pre-race feeling of, “just get it over with”, I was very pleased with my result and I now look forward to the National Cross Country Championships in Nottingham on 25th February 2017 where I hope to improve on my position of 839 (57:58 over 12km) from last year.
My final position in the Kent Cross Country league was 18th with a points tally of 283 from the four races (the lower the score the better, i.e. 1st receives 1 point, 2nd receives 2 points…) and it is interesting to look at the competitors around me. For example, the runner who finished one place ahead of me overall was 15 places ahead of me in the first race, 5 ahead in the second and third races and then 20 places behind me in the final race – which goes to show how much I have improved over the season. This now acts as a good springboard for me over the Spring/Summer months and gives me something to aim for when the 2017/18 cross country season begins, which I am already looking forward to!