Eric Humphries XC – 21 January 2015

Lesley Pymm reports:  This was a real example of how important it is to get to a venue in good time for a warm up and proper preparation.  This was the latest of the Police and Services League events, which is also an open event run by Northamptonshire Police.  All I could find out about Eric Humphries is that he was a police officer in Northants, but can’t find out why exactly he donated the shield for the championship!  I travelled with West Mids Police in their mini-bus.  We were on the M1 when the driver realised that he had missed the junction.  It was a long way to the next junction, but we had to go down there and turn around.  We realised that we were going to be late, so there was a lot of changing going on in the van (probably to the amusement of any passing lorry drivers)!

We had to go the Police HQ to pick up our numbers before going on another mile or so to the race venue.  Ideally I would have run this, but was worried that I would miss the start so I remained in the van.  We all fell out of the vehicle and ran over to the start.  My knee was hurting and there was nothing I could do about it.  I knew that if I got a decent warm up it would ease off, but no chance.  I was also very cold!

It is a three lap course.  There is a downhill start and then we run along the perimeter of Delapre Park.  This is woody and so there are tree roots.  It was dryer than I remember, but this meant that the ground was sticky!  It was well marked and obstacles were highlighted.  There was a tree across the path at one point, but I was not doing anything heroic.  I ran round it.  It may have been a couple of yards further, but at least I kept going rather than stopping and stepping.

There is a ditch on this course.  Nothing compared to Leamington Spa, but tricky and it always takes a couple of laps to work out how it is best to approach it.  This year was no different.  I stumbled into the ditch and out again and staggered up the slope.  Then there is a bit of road.  I wore studs this year as I lost time last year on this bit in spikes.  It narrows into a stoney path and then there is quite a good run through trees and then out onto grass (downhill) and past the start/finish area and off onto another lap.

My knee was really sore for the first lap and I didn’t get warm until the third lap.  I did speed up for the second and third laps, but my time was about 3 minutes down on last year.  Quite honestly I was just pleased to finish.  It was about 6.75 miles, so a good workout.

It is a good race – but I think next year we will be leaving a bit earlier and making sure we don’t miss the exit!