Early morning on Saturday 23rd of February Bournville Ladies joined several of the men, a couple of very welcome supporters and three members of BRAT club to head up to the very far, quite grim (on this occasion) North, for the English National Cross country championships at Sunderland. A delay on the A1 started the nerves early but thanks to Elvis’s lane changing skill, speedy driving and confident ignoring of satnav instructions we arrived in time. Marianne who arrived early had checked out the course and informed us that it was ‘a bit muddy’.
We got out of the coach to face a biting wind, snow on the ground and in the air, and all of the normal excitement and atmosphere of the nationals. Not to be deterred we watched the men erect the tent – thanks guys it was very much appreciated – stripped off, and proceeded to warm up. It was cold! I can’t really explain how cold it was, just to say the Bournville Harriers ladies swear box would have been full before we even started. However when the going gets tough the tough gets going and as it has been proved time and time again Bournville ladies are a tough bunch, we sang ‘eye of the tiger’ and pulled ourselves together.
The start of the nationals is worth the journey. Starting in pens on a single start line with 426 other women is an experience. Once the gun has gone everyone charges! Not to be left behind the BvH girls set off into the distance to do the club proud. The snow had pretty much cleared from the actual course and the ground was soft. It became quite quickly clear that the initial enthusiasm of the start would diminish to a trudge. Eachof the two laps included two hills, but nothing too steep or too long, just enough to keep it interesting. There also seemed to be some kind of sculpture at the top which I thought was nice. The conditions were challenging. The trick was heading for the mud that looked the solidest, however I noticed Leonie who ploughed through impressively. Support on the course was fantastic. Thank you so much to the men’s team and Barrie and Brian who offered much needed encouragement. The general atmosphere was friendly and all the spectators offered support (must be because it’s friendly up north). The final stretch was undulating. Feeling good I was hoping for a sprint finish but turned the corner to the finishing straight and hit treacle! No chance of doing anything other than trying to trudge slightly quicker. A really good course, I think in better conditions it would be a fantastic run.
If we thought we were cold before we ran this was nothing compared to the finish! Dignity and thoughts of being clean put to one side, getting changed and getting to the cafe was the only way to prevent hypothermia. Elvis made our day by picking us up in the coach with the heating on full, which raised spirits again.
We were very pleased to come 17th out of 46 complete teams, which equals our performance from last year. It is very pleasing that we are into the top half of all the teams in England. Well done girls.
Thanks to everyone, men and women, and especially the supporters who made it such a good day. A great end to a very successful season.
Linda Howell 104 0:36:56
Sara Roberts 138 0:38:18
Sarah Rock 178 0:40:13
Marianne Hensman 207 0:41:05
Julie Delahaye-Slater 254 0:42:49
Nicola Cumley 273 0:43:58
Leonie Clitherow 275 0:44:01
Jude Glynn 296 0:44:57
Full results here