Sunday, 31 January 2010

Saucony South of England Cross Country Top 20

It was great to be back running the 'Southern' at Parliament Hill yesterday for the first time since about 1997 for me. My big memory of that race was a battle with a certain Huw Lobb for a place inside the top 10 and 12 years later we were at it again though a few places lower than last time.

For afficianodos the southern is special because it is the only big XC race in britain that retains the old 9 miles distance. Add in the mud and hills of Hampstead Heath and it becomes a war of attrition to say the least. Yesterday was no exception though the mud has decreased in recent years since the council put in some drainage on the heath. (Photo left from

My race was a mixed bag. after struggling to keep up at the start I was back in the forties but quickly worked my up in to the twenties on the opening lap and tracking Dave Wardle but I was struggling badly on the hills. Every time we hit an up slope there was no power in my legs and I went backwards a few places - and hills are normally a strength.

By the end of lap 1 I was in the early 20's and not really enjoying the race. With concentration wavering and more uphills I had slipped to about 25th midway through the lap when Huw caught up with me and my race changed. Most of the guys around me were breathing hard, much harder than me so clearly my fitness was pretty good.

As Huw came past I tucked in and we start on a charge that would last most of the second half of the race (photo left by Alex Robinson and courtesy of Adam Prezedrzymirski). It worked out well. On the hills he was pulling away again but on the flatter parts I was charging past him so we pulled each other into the top 20 and were catching runners all the way to the finish.

Another lap would have been helpful at this point :-) I was even able to raise a good sprint to hold off a fast finishing James Connor. So I managed to salvage something from the wreckage of the first half of my race and will only get better with more races in coming weeks. Bring on the next one.

Left: Wells team tent with Enfield's Jon Pepper getting some love from Big Frank before taking 2nd in the senior mens race (and to keep the internet message board posters happy - checking out a move to the west country before transfer deadline day ?)

Full Results here from Milton Keynes AC (click tabs at bottom of page for other age groups).

Senior Mens Top 20

1. N Hall
2. J. Pepper
3. K Heywood
4. Deed
5. Neuschwander
6. Lacy
7. Mashford
8. Toher
9. Smith
10. Tickner
11. Clarke
12. Dalmedo
13. Wardle
14. Coleman
15. Warren
16. Edwards
17. Marriott
18. Connor
19. Lobb
20. Jones

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