Kent Cross Country League – Saturday 10th February 2018

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The fourth and final fixture (for Senior Men) took place at Sparrow’s Den, West Wickham on a challenging 3 and a half lap course. The day had started off very cold and icy, so icy in fact that the Royal Tunbridge Wells parkrun event had been cancelled that morning due to the amount of sheet ice on the paths around the lake in Dunorlan Park. However, with the Cross Country race start at 12.30pm, the cold weather had passed and some rather drizzly and dank weather had moved in!

I arrived at the venue in good time and went for a 1 mile warm-up around the playing fields before changing into my spikes and vest. The course consisted of a lap of an undulating field before moving into a challenging and hilly wooded section, this was repeated a further two times, before finishing with one final lap of the field and a swift return toward the start/finish line. I chose to go with 15mm spikes as there were quite a few sections of mud on the course and I also found these helped when making my way up the climbs in the woods.

I started off my race at a steady pace and gradually built up as the race went on. I worked hard on the inclines with a short recovery on the flats before making a quick decent throught the woods – there were some sections of stone and some tree routes to navigate, but having run on this course numerous times before (the course is also used for a 4km relay in the Autumn), I was very familiar and knew what to expect and this worked to my advantage.

I felt strong towards the end of the race and managed to pick up a few places in the last mile, finishing in 54th position and 10th scorer for our club in the 12 to score team. This was also my highest finishing position across the four races, having previously finished in 84th, 65th and 66th and this led to my final points tally of 267 and position 22 in the final league standings.

Looking at the final standings in the table, there were a total of 439 runners who competed in at least 1 of the 4 fixtures, with just 72 people managing to finish all 4. My finishing position of 22 this year was 4 places lower when compared to last season, however, my points tally this year was 16 better than last year and so I was able to come away with a positive in that sense.

Following on from this race, I decided to invest in a new pair of running spikes as a couple of the spikes on my existing pair had bent and started to come up through the sole of the shoe, causing me some discomfort. I visited Running Hub in Southborough (which is about a 2 minute walk from my house) and Alan Cheek convinced me to try on a pair of Saucony Kilkenny XC spikes and I found them to be very comfortable, so was sold straight away. Now, this is a departure from my usual loyalty to Brooks and I shall see how I get along with these when I take them for a spin at Lullingstone parkrun tomorrow. I wanted to wear them in ahead of my final cross country race of the season (the National XC at Parliament Hill) on Saturday 24th February and feel that this will be a good test for both the shoes and myself!

As always, thank you for reading and please check back for my next blog post which will focus on the National Cross Country race and the Club’s (Tonbridge AC) awards dinner which take place on the evening of 24th February 2018.

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