“ohhhh, so THIS is cross country …”

The cold temperatures and rain didn’t keep you all away from parkrun this weekend, with the new Alton Water parkrun proving particularly popular. The Hollidges, Preslands, Rob Dyer and Caroline Talbot were there to celebrate Debs’ 150th (parkrun, not birthday), with Phil proudly finishing ahead of Vicky again (I bet she showed him how it’s done at XC the next day though). Tim Ballard was the sixth finisher in 19:59, and Jonathan Briggs might have set a club record for fastest parkrun completed in 4 layers plus a GBRC club jacket (25:26, if anyone wants to go through old photos in an attempt to verify this record).

Congratulations on 150 parkruns, Debs!

Seven club members ran at Colchester Castle parkrun, with some assisting with pacing duties for the Running Colchester takeover event. Charlie Keitch finished 9th in 20:51 as the 21 minute pacer, which strangely was the exact same time he achieved at Highwoods last week when running at effort, showing the difference in difficulty between the two courses. Sue Wray achieved a new PB at this parkrun, with a time of 27:17. Five members completed Clacton Seafront parkrun, but no PBs this week – probably some energy being preserved for cross country!

A few sole representatives at other parkruns were: Paul Connell (2nd at Highwoods in 21:46), Martin Owen (26:51 at Markshall Estate), David Nugent (45:02 at March parkrun), Stephen Walsh (25:09 at Harwich) and Simon Leggett (21:19 at Great Notley).

On Sunday, Leoni Harvey had a great run at the Adnams Southwold 10k to achieve her second fastest 10k time (54:36) and, more importantly, a goodie bag containing alcohol.

Cheers to that!

The main event of the weekend was the second fixture of the NESS XC league at Gosfield School, organised by Halstead Road Runners. A few us thought we knew what cross country was after the first fixture at Writtle a few weeks ago, but it turns out that was just a pleasant trail run through some fields. After lots of rain the previous day and the temperature barely going above freezing, there was a lot of chatter before the race about what the conditions would be like, and whether those running in vests and shorts might actually perish out there on the course.

Our junior team of blue superstars completed their route through the woods with their characteristic determination even in the cold temperature and difficult conditions. In the boys’ race, James Blacker finished 20th, Charlie Sharp 26th, Harry Booty 32nd and Brody Wakeling 45th. In the girls’ race, Evie Fathers finished 31st, Freya Ballard 35th, Ella Simpson 43rd, Yasmin Leek 45th, Holly Licence 46th and Laci Wakeling 51st. A special mention to Brody and Freya, who both bravely pushed through to finish the race after losing shoes (and Laci for stopping to help her brother).

Freya show-carrying like a pro

The senior course went out through the woods, then through approx. 3 miles of fields and farmland that might best be described as ‘undulating quagmire’, then returning through the woods to finish on the field. As usual, Bentley had an excellent turnout and there were too many of you to mention everyone individually, but congratulations to our men’s team scorers: Ryan Day (7th), Doug McGillivray (11th), Mark Jasper (26th), Tim Ballard (27th), Harry Swinbourne (37th), Craig Mitchell (40th), Charlie Keitch (41st) and David Wright (45th). Our ladies team were thrilled to welcome Emily Zethraeus back to XC and she led the scorers for the ladies with a second place finish, followed by Vicky Presland (16th), Mags Komorowska (29th) and Maddy Allen (35th – in only her second ever XC race). These placings led to an outstanding result for the club – 2nd place for the men and 3rd place for the ladies for this fixture, giving us a current league position of 3rd in the Pool A Men and joint 3rd (with Witham) in the Pool A Women. Full results can be found at: http://www.nessxc.org.uk/fixtures.php

Well done to all who took part, especially those first timers who must have experienced quite the baptism of mud. If I am to complete the ‘lost shoe’ reporting, I must also mention Louise Balfour who finished with her a huge smile on her face but absolutely filthy, having lost her shoe and fallen in the mud face-first looking for it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is now really looking forward to marshalling at our XC at Hilly Fields – it looks like a great spectator sport!