Saturday 9th February was the date of the final Birmingham and Midlands Leagues fixtures and the men and womens’ teams were racing at separate locations.

The Ladies were at a new location at Cattle Country, Berkeley, which was a great setting if a little water-logged due to the recent heavy rain.  Because of the previously mentioned flooding, the course had to be changed, so we weren’t entirely sure of the distance that we would be running and as we stood in the middle of a windy, boggy field, we hoped it wouldn’t be too much further than the normal 4ish miles.

After a brief warm-up and recce of the course, we lined up at the start line amongst 339 runners from Divisions 1 and 2.  The gun signalled the start of the race and we were all soon slipping and trying to find some grip in the muddy conditions.  We ran around the first field and then out to the next field and past the club tents (some of which had been blown over due to the windy conditions), we then ran down, through puddles and out, around another two muddy fields and then back to the tent field and repeated it all again.

During the second time around the tent field, it became apparent that we would be running quite a lot more than our normal four miles, which although I’m a big fan of Cross Country, did not fill me with joy due to the conditions.  However, we all dug deep though and ploughed through the mud and water, until we had made it over the uphill finish line.

First to finish for the team was Sally Dring in 35:15 and 51st position, followed by Nichola Robinson in 38:12 and 95th, Katie Downing was next in 38:49 and 101st, Lindsey Goodrum followed in 39:15 and 103rd, I was next in 40:40 and 107th, Kareen Mann was next in 42:48 and 117th, followed by Claire Shacklock in 46:15 and 128th.

After 4 races, we finished 14th, so we will be heading back to Division 2 next Season.  We’ve enjoyed our time in the top flight but look forward to the challenge of finishing high in Division 2 again.

As mentioned, the men were racing at a different location – Park Hall Country Park, Stoke on Trent.  Whilst I wasn’t there, I have been informed that the course was 6.1 miles long and whilst they didn’t have any mud to contend with (unlike the ladies), they had a lot of gravel and uneven ground, which wasn’t ideal.  13 men ran for Black Pear Joggers and put in a great performance, which saw them finish 4th in this race and 5th overall for the Season. Thus securing their place in Division 2 for next Season.

Adam Jackson was first to finish in 38:42 and 17th position and the rest of the results can be seen here.

This Sunday (17th) was the final race of the Gloucestershire League and was held at one of my favourite courses at Pittville Park, Cheltenham.  Four ladies turned up to race and Marcus Mingins represented the men.  Conditions were very favourable, with hardly any mud to wade through and mild conditions.  The Gloucestershire League is slightly different as the ladies also race with the over 65 year old men.  Our race was made up of 139 runners, which due to the vast area at the start, meant that there weren’t any congestion issues.  The course involved one small lap down to the finish area and then two big laps, which included undulations, the ever popular water crossing and a a few trees – everything that you need from a Cross Country race.  It was also just over 4 miles.

First to finish for the ladies was Lindsey Goodrum in 31:08 and 41st position, Danielle Mitchell was next in 32:26 and 55th, I was next in 34:24 and 85th and Ann Hewlett finished in 36:26 and 101st. The team finished in 19th position.

So that’s it, the end of another Cross Country season, which as always has been tough, fun, exciting, friendship forming but most of all, great training for the running challenges that we all face, as we head into Marathon season.

If you would like to join the Cross Country teams next Season look out for posts in the Autumn about fixture dates, until then have a great Spring and Summer.