This will be the last race report from Lorraine for a while as the Cross Country season takes a break through the spring and summer months, ready to return in its cold and glorious muddy splendour in the Autumn and Winter. If anybody would like to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact either Lorraine or Chris Harris for more information. The club has watched the teams go from strength to strength and I remember when the ladies struggled to cobble together enough of us to even take part. Now we have a steady stream of excellent dedicated runners in both categories and a proud represenation in two leagues. Good work captains and teams alike.

Tracy Kennish, Marcomms and Media Liaison

Last Saturday was the final race of the Gloucestershire League and the Cross Country Season. It took place at Pittville Park, Cheltenham, a favourite with me as it was the scene of my first ever Cross Country race with BPJ. The conditions were favourable – mild, dry weather, not a lot of mud or hills, a water crossing, men and women running at the same venue, plenty of support. The venue also wasn’t too far to travel to, so it all pointed to an enjoyable last team effort from the BPJ men and women.

The ladies were first to race, we had already seen the Juniors running around the course, so knew that it wasn’t too muddy. The Gloucestershire League isn’t as big as the Midlands League, so we lined up amongst the 127 ladies racing and we were soon charging past the spectators and onto our first small lap. The conditions were really good underfoot and the pace seemed very quick for an off road race. Two large laps followed our first small lap, which entailed two journeys through the water crossing, the first time a lot of us approached it quite gingerly but by the second time around, we just jumped straight in and out and up the bank. The water crossing did seem to interrupt the running rhythm temporarily but we soon got back into our stride.

This was one of our longest Cross Country races at 4.2 miles and once again there were some great performances from BPJ ladies team. First to finish was Sarah Kellett in an outstanding 28.50 and 23rd overall, next was Victoria Watkins in 29.39, Jemima Lowe in 29.42, Emily Seward in 29.45 and Anne-Marie Bird in 29.54, Nichola Robinson in 31.03, Lorraine Griffiths in 32.11, Katie Downing in 33.07, Claire Shacklock in 34.28, Simone Melia in 35.04, Ewelina Skolimowska in 35.37, Julie Hall in 36.17 and Catherine Kelly in 37.33. We managed to field 4 ladies teams: our A team finished 7th, B team were 10th, C team were 23rd and our D team were 29th. Our Masters teams were also 3rd and 9th. These really were great results.

Next up was the mens’ race with a slightly bigger field of 190 runners. Their race entailed one small lap and three big laps and therefore, 3 trips through the water crossing. As it was a longer race, approximately 6 miles, it meant that the men had to pace it slightly differently to ensure that they didn’t suffer too much in the final lap. BPJ men did really well with Chris Attwood the first BPJ to finish in 36.26 and 26th position, next was Simon Griffiths in 40.13 and Matt Moon in 41.14. Unfortunately, BPJ men didn’t have enough runners for a team as the requirement is 6 but the men still raced really well.

Well after 4 Birmingham/Midlands League races, 4 Gloucestershire League races and 1 County Championship race, that’s it for this Season. It has been a memorable one, with a record number of BPJ runners taking part, the men being promoted to Division 2 of Birmingham League, BPJ ladies finishing second in the County Championships and everyone getting stronger. It really is great fun competing as part of a team and both the men and womens’ teams get on brilliantly. Also nothing sets you up better for the demands of Spring marathons and half marathons, than the challenges of racing through mud twice a month. So if you want to join us next Season, look out for the Cross Country recruitment notices in September. Until then, have a great Spring and Summer of running.

Lorraine Griffiths, Ladies Cross Country Team Captain.

For more information about events, leagues, costs, joining the merry band of cross countriers or even popping along to support your fellow BPJers (as all cheering is most welcome), please look at the dedicated page on the BPJ website by clicking this link.