Kent Cross Country League – Saturday 14th October 2017

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Stanhill Farm (Wilmington)
Senior men’s race (9.8km), 2.45pm

The first Kent Cross Country league fixture of the season was hosted by Dartford Harriers AC at Stanhill Farm in Wilmington and the race came just 6 days after my last half marathon (Royal Parks), so I wasn’t expecting to perform to my best.

This is now my third season in the Kent XC league (you can read my blog on the 2016/17 season here) and despite me having taken to road running in my first couple of years of competition it is now the cross-country season that I most look forward to!

The club tent

The weather conditions could not have been better with it being dry, mild & bright, although there was a bit of a wind out on the course. The ground underfoot was firm due to the lack of rain that we have had this month and the running surface was a mix of grass and dirt tracks around farmers’ fields.

Grey clouds rolling in

Blue skies, warm & sunny

After a walk around the course with a couple of clubmates I went for a short warm-up jog, dynamic stretches and a couple of strides before taking on some water and then making my way to the start. I positioned myself toward the front of the second third of the field of runners (there were approximately 300 in the senior men’s race) and set off at a steady pace. It was very crowded for the first half a mile or so but I felt good and gradually increased my stride & breathing rate.

I found myself picking off runners as the laps went by and certainly found it good having so many clubmates competing in the same race as it gave me an idea as to how well I was performing. I was surprised at how good my legs felt given the half marathon PB that I had managed just 6 days previous and I felt pretty strong throughout the race which was an encouraging sign.

On my way to an 82nd place finish – photo courtesy of Mark Hookway

There was a great turnout from our club in particular, with 110 runners across the 8 races, of which 36 ran in the senior men’s race.

Most of the senior men’s team, post-race

My finishing time of 38:13 was a massive improvement on this race in 2016 when I ran 39:54 and my finishing position of 82 was 10 places better on the 2016 race and so I was delighted with this. In addition, my coach Mark Hookway, must have felt it was a very good performance from me given the comment that he made on my Facebook post after the race:

Best race ever!!

I look forward to the second fixture, which is our club’s home fixture at the Schools at Somerhill in Tonbridge on Saturday 28th October. Between then and now I shall continue with the RonHill challenge to #RunEveryDay throughout the month of October and I may even get in a parkrun on the Saturday between these two fixtures!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back in a fortnight for my next blog post.

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