Many of you will have hung up your spikes with much relief in mid February after the last Sussex League race at Lancing. For some of us mud lovers the XC season extends until March.
Every year British Masters holds its XC race somewhere in the UK – this is my 5th BMAF XC race and I have run at venues as diverse as Perry Park (near Alexander Stadium, Birmingham), Bath University, a very muddy Herrington Park, Sunderland, a very windy Victoria Park, Glasgow and this year Ruthin, Wales which I had neither heard of nor been to before (it is not far from Wrexham)
I have been building up to this race since early January. This race has been held at Ruthin before and having asked around I was told that the course was flat (or should I say the course used in the past was flat but the one used this year was of the hilly variety which suited me)
There is usually no pre entry list for BMAF XC so you have no idea until the day who is running.
In fact considering the race was held in Wales, competitors had travelled from far and wide – Winchester, Kent, Coventry , Newcastle etc.
The race HQ was in the grounds of Ruthin school and of course we got there ridiculously early which was good because that gave me a chance to walk part of the course and assess the going. I had packed short spikes, long spikes and studs. Surprisingly given the rain the day before the course was mainly firm although there was a Plumptonesque ploughed field, a Plumpton type track and some Welsh cow poo through a farmyard.
During the course recce the race tape suggested that we went through the farmyard but the gates were padlocked. A somewhat irate farmer appeared and said that he was not opening the gates but it appeared that the course was indeed through the farm and the gates were later opened.
I looked at the course map but wasn’t 100% sure of the route – I knew I wouldn’t be leading so it wouldn’t be a problem. Usually BMAF XC is 3 laps x 2k but this time it was 1.5 playing field laps, a long lap including ploughed field and then a shorter lap.
Mark was wearing his Brighton Marathon jacket and many of the competitors seemed to think he was a race official as they were all asking him about the course (which fortunately he understood much better than I did!)
I opted for short spikes which were a good choice. Many people were running round and round but while it is important to warm up it is equally important not to waste energy and to do strides just before the race.
All too quickly it was 11:55 and time to line up in a chilly Easterly wind. I got a good position, the gun fired and we were off. I hit the hilly ploughed field, picked a firm line and pushed up the hill cheered on by a lady who seemed to know me then hurtled down the track at the other side. The farmyard was very manury and slippery so it was a case of slithering through that bit (twice). Mark was on the course shouting the gap to the next V50 lady – this went from 10 meters near the start to a pleasing 90 meters by lap 2. I finished strongly and thought I might be in the medals but didn’t realise until the end that I was 1st V50 and British Masters V50 XC champion. I was 23/88 ladies V35-V75 and it is my best result at BMAF XC (I got V45 Bronze at both Perry Park and Herrington Park)
After the relief of crossing the finish line I got a few layers on, had a chat with a few fellow BMAFers then watched the men’s race. Straight after that we all retired indoors for the prizegiving which was very well attended and which the organisers rattled through rapidly.
All in all a good race, a pleasing result and worth the journey.