Cofton Park was the location for last Saturday’s Cross Country race (13th January).  We have raced there a few times both for County Championships and as part of the leagues.  It always scores high in terms of the challenges it presents and the support around the course.  Black Pear Joggers fielded a team of 8 ladies and 15 men at the rather chilly venue.  A few of the team inspected the course and reported back that it wasn’t too muddy (just a few spongy, sticky bits), which was good news.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t put a positive spin on the hills though, they still looked as challenging as ever.

As usual the ladies raced first and the 8 of us lined up with the other 184 ladies from our Division (2) and 191 ladies from Division 1.  Considering this is now race 3 and only a week after the County Championships, the enthusiasm for Cross Country doesn’t seem to be waning.  When the starting signal went off, we were all treated to a relatively flat start for approximately 400m before hitting the first (and main) hill.  This hill is one of those that twists and turns so by the time you reach the top, you can’t quite make the most of the downhills as it takes a bit of time to recover properly.  Once that hill and downhill was out of the way, we were soon running through a ditch ready for the next hill, twists, turns, up again, along, down and then back near the start to do it all again.  The ladies completed two laps (approximately 4 miles) before a very rewarding downhill to the finish line.

Once again, Sophie Booth lead the ladies team home in 6th position in our division and a time of 26:37.  Victoria Watkins was next in 29:51 (32nd), Emily Seward in 30:18 (37th), Lindsey Goodrun in 32:19 (54th), Lorraine Griffiths in 32:46 (63rd), Ewelina Skolimowska in 33:56 (78th), Jess Hathaway in 34:13 (82nd) and Cat Kelly in 39:09 (131st).  Overall the team was 6th out of 23 teams and we are currently sitting at 2nd place in our Division, which is just a fantastic achievement.

The mens’ team lined up an hour later amongst a field of 287 runners in their Division (2).  Once the the starting gun had sounded the men raced off, with BPJ Neil Laurenson leading the field for the first 500m.  The ladies team raced around the course to catch the men at as many points as possible during their 3 lap (approximately 6 miles) race, witnessing them digging in up the hills and flying down the descents.  If you want to witness mental and physical toughness, Cross Country really is the place to be.

First home for the mens’ team once again was Adam Jackson in 10th position and 35:24, Neil Laurenson was next in 35:55 (19th), Paul Childs in 37:10 (39th), Toby Whitfield in 37:50 (53rd) Matt Davis in 38:41 (76th), Jay Warner in 39:07 (85th), Chris Attwood in 39:25 (90th), Nick Hooper in 40:22 (119th), Matt Moon in 40:26 (121st) , Paul Evans in 40:33 (124th), Chris Harris in 41:15 (142nd), Darrin Lynn in 41:48 (152nd), Simon Griffiths in 42:31 (169th), Dan Manning in 42:40 (176th) and Ant Jones in 49:55 (259th).  The mens’ A team were 6th and the B team were 4th.  After 3 races the Black Pear Joggers mens team are 6th out of 17 teams in Division 2.

There is now only 1 race left in the Midlands (ladies) and Birmingham (mens) Leagues.  With 96 points (the equivalent of race positions) between Black Pear Joggers ladies in 2nd place and the team in 4th place, it’s looking very likely that the ladies will be promoted to Division 1.  We just have to hope that we all stay injury and illness free, so we can all line up in Wolverhampton and give it our best on February 10th .  The men seem to have secured their position in Division 2 for next Season and they will be racing in Coventry for their final race.  This really is shaping up to be a great Season for the Cross Country teams.  If you would like to be involved contact Chris Harris (mens team Captain) or me (ladies team Captain).