Sara Rock reports on the 2012 National Cross-country Championships which took place at Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath in London on 25th February:
We set off in the coach for the Nationals, with a women’s team that was sadly depleted through illness and injury. However, the sun was shining and this plus Becky’s trendy striped wellies, raised our spirits. After a detour (read “lost”) through the cul de sacs of Hampstead, we arrived thanks to Nicola’s navigation skills to find a thankfully dry and sunny course.
As we lined up at the start with the best cross country runners in England, we were proud to be representing BvH and it was lovely to bump into our old friend Cat Ricketts. The first quarter of a mile is a big wide hill which sorts the wheat from the chaff from the off. Feeling rather chaff-like, I was struggling to find space amongst the other 648 ladies.
The first lap seemed full of hills but where there’s an up, there’s always a down, and so this gave me time to catch my breath and get into a rhythm. By the 2nd lap, I was steadily passing runners, including two rivals from local Midlands clubs. I nearly careered off the course thanks to a steep camber on a muddy corner, but regained my composure when I saw a lady in front of me running with one spike in her hand and told myself however hard I was finding this, she had a harder job!
Towards the end, Nicola unfortunately fell in an impressibly spectacular fashion, and Becky ran the final stages of the race with one spike hanging half on! This is testament to the determination of BvH ladies, and Kathryn, Julie and Marianne had great runs despite the tough course, with Linda finishing first BvH lady home in an impressive 120th position.
BvH ladies finished 28th team out of 73 teams (which is an improvement of 4 places on last year’s race when less teams finished), and I feel both proud of the team as well as sad that this was my last race as cross country captain. I’d like to thank all the ladies for their efforts over the past two years and all those who have turned out in all weathers to support us. Thanks particularly to Sharon and Steve for sorting the much appreciated coach for this race.
The 3 things I will remember about the cross country nationals:
1) If you don’t feel sick for most of the race, then you aren’t running hard enough!
2) Seeing a herd of nearly 1,700 men all cantering up the first hill at the start will never fail to impress me!
3) The harder the race, the more cakes people bake…..