Date: 19th Feb 2023

Two cross country races in consecutive weekends and ouch I’m feeling it! Last week I wrote about the Midlands Cross Country League. This week the Gloucestershire Cross Country league had their 3/4 race hosted by Cheltenham in Pitville Park. 

I arrive at the Prince of Wales stadium to collect my number an hour before my race. I’m in a good head space: I know the course, I have fuelled properly and there isn’t a queue for the loos – great! The juniors were racing as I warmed up. We had great weather over the weekend, but combined with the small rain we had in the week, it made the ground quite sticky.

I’m on the start line with the usual mix of nerves and excitement. The gun goes and we’re off!

2 large laps criss crossing around the park, trying to include every mound possible. I have a tendency to go off too quickly and then struggle in the middle sector, so I deliberately held back a little. After the first kilometre, that got boring and so I ramped up to what I felt a comfortable pace. It was a good field of abilities and there were always runners nearby. The true crowd pleaser of the day is the stream crossing we have to jump through (twice for the ladies and three time for the gents!) With my injury history I wasn’t taking any chances and just gently dropped into it. I might lose time but I would rather get home safely! 

Just over half way now and my exuberant kick after the first 1st kilometre is catching up with me, I have overcooked it. The little punch of strength I need to nip up the short hills was fading quickly and there is a group of 4 women all within 10m of me, that I need to close up to. I’m around 800m to the finish so I dig deep and push as hard as I can. Cruelly, this last stretch is nearly all up hill. One by one, I over take the small group in front. The last 100m the finish is dead ahead of you, but you have to go over very uneven ground, don’t trip!

I finish across the line with the satisfying feeling of “I gave it my all which is great, but now I can barely walk”. A few minutes to catch my breath and have some water (it was hot!) and I’m feeling more human again. 

Home time for a good flop on the sofa. It’s great having the race so nearby as it doesn’t take up the whole of your day travelling. Now for gentle week of training. I now switch my focus more evenly across swimming and cycling too, ahead of the summer.