This Saturday saw the first races of the Midlands (ladies) and Birmingham (men) Leagues.  Normally, we all race together at Leamington for the first race of the Season but this year the ladies travelled to Coundon Park, Coventry, which was a new venue for us, whilst the men travelled to Lilleshall National Conference Centre, Telford.

There was a huge turnout for the Midlands League, as 426 ladies from Divisions 1 and 2 lined up to race the four miles course.  The weather was kind to us, there had been talk of rain but luckily none materialised and the conditions underfoot were muddy but not the leg sapping sticky mud that we had encountered the previous week.

We fielded a team of 11 ladies, with Sophie Booth and Lindsey Goodrum joining the team for the first time.  After 30 seconds silence to commemorate Armistice Day, the race was underway.  The start seemed fast as 426 ladies enjoyed the lack of inclines at the beginning.  However, as we had to run through the first wooded area, which was narrow in places, there was inevitably some congestion.  When we were able to get through the narrow area and get running again, we enjoyed more favourable flat conditions.  With the first small lap out of the way, we enjoyed 2 more big laps, around fields, up and down trails in the woods and through a few puddles.  Cross Country can be quite disorienting, as there are no mile markers and one bit of field or wood can look a lot like another, so it’s best to focus on what’s ahead and count down the miles as your watch beeps, until the finish is in sight!

Black Pear Joggers Ladies had some great results with Sophie Booth coming in first for the team in 27:17 and 9th in our Division (2), Emily Seward was next in 29:37 and 24th, Annie Bird was very close behind in 29:44 and 25th, Sally Dring was next in 29:54 and 30th.  Next was Lindsey Goodrum in 33:55 and 79th, followed by myself in 34:05 and 80th, Jess Hathaway finished in 34:33 and 90th, Amy Stewart finished in 36:14 and 110th, Claire Shacklock in 38:19 and 135th, Cat Kelly in 38:23 and 136th and Imogen Harding in 38:43 and 140th.   We were third team out of 24 in Division 2 and our Masters Team were fourth. A great start to the Midlands League.

Over in Telford, our Mens team also did well with Adam Jackson leading the team home in 31:44 and 12th position out of 288 runners.  The men fielded 2 teams with our “A” team finishing 6th out of 17 teams and or “B” team finishing 10th out of 13 in Division 2.  It’s looking good for Black Pear Joggers men to stay up in Division 2 after promotion last Season.

The next Cross Country race is on 2nd December and BPJ men and ladies will race at the same venue, Welcombe Hills, Stratford.  The clue is in the venue name, this one is hilly!  However, it’s also a great course and we’ll all benefit from the strength that can be gained from running up and down those hills in the mud!

If you’d like to join the Cross Country teams contact either myself (ladies) or Chris Harris (men).

Lorraine Griffiths, Ladies Cross Country Team Captain