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Language journey, spikes come out to play, fruit everywhere, narrow, up & down, fast finish and the waiting game.

The first cross-country race of the season and my last competition as a ‘senior male’. Sunday League sets your age group for the season based on your age as of the first race, which for me would mean one last hurrah as a SM thanks to my *mumble* *cough* birthday ending in 0 *cough* falling the day after the race.

I was on driving duty to take The Son (spectator and possibly photographer) plus a couple of other Eagle runners. It proved to be a frosty journey after the conversation turned to regional accents and one of my passengers was not impressed to be told that she had a ‘London accent’. Since the original observation was from a Geordie, then I wasn’t surprised that his ear for accents was skewed.

The venue has somewhat limited parking, which is mainly used by the golf club, so it was lucky that we arrived early otherwise parking would have been a struggle. I didn’t attend this race last year, in fact I only made it to Royston in Sunday League due to The Son attending exam prep classes, so was not sure what to expect.

Out came the cross-country spikes for a pre-race warm-up and recce of the course. Some hills, nothing too scary, and some mud around but not yet that muddy thanks to the mainly dry weather. Everyone was led to the start where we found the ground littered with fallen fruit – eyes on the ground to avoid twisting an ankle.

The race began and we were off to face the first hill (well… slope) and the runners began to slowly string out, that’s until a downhill section suddenly narrowed and everyone ground to a halt. Thankfully everyone was spread out for the second lap and the pinch point was no longer a problem.

I was just about lapped by the 1st & 2nd finishers as they streaked past into the finish funnel as I started my last lap. My pacing had been too conservative, mainly as I wasn’t really sure of my fitness, so I used the last lap to reel in small groups of runners ahead of me.

The course was good fun and definitely spike friendly – some hills, some technical turns and just a touch of mud. Spikes were not really needed for grip in mud sections but they gave fantastic grip to bound down some of the hills and make some sharp turns.

It’s a shame that cross-country does not offer any junior races, so The Son was left sheltering from the wind in his camping chair playing on his Nintendo DS (which didn’t seem to be a problem). I suppose that people do not want to hang round in the cold autumn / winter to watch kids race, unlike Summer League where it’s warm and a real family affair.

Our ‘London accent’ passenger had gone AWOL by the time we headed back to the car for our journey home. I still have no idea whether she left with someone else to get home early while we stayed for drinks and snacks or if she did not want to face her Geordie nemesis again. However, it did cause me a delay because she hadn’t told us of any plan to go without us so we went back to check the start / finish area and the golf club just to make sure that we were not leaving anyone behind.

  • Race time: 0:42:41
  • Garmin time: 0:42:41
  • Position: 257 / 387
  • Position male: 203 / 252
  • Category: SM
  • Category position: 75 / 83