Lancing Manor is the 3rd and in my opinion the best race in the Sussex Cross Country league, and on Saturday it was made even better by having a big yellow thing in the sky for a change! Add to that nice dry conditions underfoot and there is really nothing to worry about…. well, except the massive hill you have to go up, once if you’re a lady and twice if you’re a bloke. However, I will take a big hill over a boggy field of poo any day.
As usual the ladies were up first and the course starts with a lap round the park on reasonably flat ground before heading out to and round the tennis courts. After this the incline starts and the pace was looking pretty electric. By halfway up the hill Emily had settled into a good rhythm and was sitting in 5th.
She managed to hold on to this place and finished as the meat in a Hastings sandwich. < Insert joke here >. Caroline was next Arena over the line in a commendable 25th and 8th veteran, shortly followed by Dani in 27th and Clare in 47th to make up the top 4 Arena women. The B team also put in a strong showing and cemented their position in the top half of Division 2. Well done girls!
Next up were the men and with a few injuries in the camp tension was high (Steve had done 5 poos already that day) as a relegation battle loomed. Starting in the open field the start line was the widest of any XC race I’d seen. This of course meant a frantic start with a lot of elbows flying but the field soon spreads out as you leave the park and head through the woods and up the dreaded hill.
I was determined to not make the same mistake as Plumpton and go out too hard and spend the rest of the race going backwards, so I got my head down and steadily ploughed on up the hill. Once you get to the top you have a few seconds to get your breath back then you turn round and go straight back down, flat out and try and keep up with your legs.
At the bottom you come back round the playing field and do it all over again. Except this time the hill feels even longer, but there’s no point trying to save any energy as once you get to the top you have to try and reel in the person(s) in front of you. Or in my case try not to lose any places. Flat out down the hill again and by the bottom I could see the usual faces and could feel and hear that familiar heavy breathing behind me.
After one final lap round the field and the loss of one place, it was over the line and trying to avoid being sick whilst reflecting on a pleasing 20th place and time 2 minutes quicker than last year. Next over the line was Mike in 37th looking like he had hardly broken a sweat and shortly after was Jim who is getting stronger and stronger after his injury. Joe then managed to stay just up wind of Steve (he obviously heard about his 5 poos) and pipped him to 59th before a short gap till a hungover Paul Arscott in 76th.
All in all an excellent showing by both the men and the women, but the rallying call for the final race in Bexhill starts here. We are only 21 points behind Worthing which can be easily made up in one race, especially if you’re from the great Bobby Robson school of mathematics who famously once said:
“They’re only two points behind us, so we’re neck and neck”