Inter counties cross country – Cofton Park Birmingham

By Phil Sanger:

So those extra sessions with Ronnie at the end of last season paid off and having competed in tone of the last events of 2010 I managed to somehow gain a place in the Cornish squad for the inter counties cross country in Birmingham.

As most people possibly did over Christmas I ate far too much and did far too little running so it was pretty hard to get into it at the beginning of the year until all of a sudden I had remembered the Cross country that I had said I was available for on March the 5th so I had to step it up and get the running shoes back on.

Well it all started well with the time being granted off from work, which was a bonus as I had had a tough week .After an initial lie in and Sam dropped me at Indian Queens to get the Team bus and we were on our way to Cheltenham. After the blink of an eye, well two and a half hours sleep , we were almost there and to my surprise were staying at quite a plush hotel which was a stone throw away from the cinema. ……………Bonus.

After checking in and battling with the TV in the room I had a quick hop over to check out what was showing, selected my movie and then ran back to the hotel for the 7pm team brief.

tom-and-dad-checking-course-route-2Issued with my Cornwall running vest and ready for dinner I met some of the other slightly younger team members and their parents included possibly the friendliest of the bunch and a fellow Mounts Bay Harrier Tom and his dad……………………

Having chatted to them and rushed my food down I managed to make it to the cinema and watch the a movie and return to get some sleep by 11pm

Race Day
Well we had an early breakfast and I managed to resist tucking into multiple croissants and jam opting for cereal and toast due to some stitch issues in the least two races I thought I would not over indulge.

Having eaten this we were soon back on the coach and up at Cofton Park ,the race venue t,o walk the course.

Now considering the last cross country I had done was a Newquay and Ian assured us all it was about 6k which was in reality 10 K you will be pleased to know that this race was again not 10K as I thought but 12K ……..nice.

Walking the course was worth doing to look at the start pen and the 400metre incline to the first corner. At this point I had begun to wonder what it was going to be like. I then walked some of the rest of the course with the juniors who were running a range of distance depending on age between 3 and 8k.

Having watched every race of the day and a few of the youngster do really well, watching the course gradually getting muddier in the bottlenecks it was time to warm up. Off came the jeans, on went the running shorts with leggings and coat and hat. Yes it was pretty nippy.

tom-1-2I managed a solid warm up of around half an hour whilst watching the under 17s and then returning to the team tent finally met the other two members of the Cornish team.

We had a brief chat and then decided to make it down toward the pens at the start gate.

In the start gate we got in order, with Dan one of the team stating he would go last as he wasn?t a fast starter.

Before we knew it the starting horn and gone and we were off.
Now not really being that much of a mathematician I calculated that there was around 40 teams with between 5 and 8 members so there was quite a few in our race. At this point, slow starter Dan flew up the first hill past me never to be seen again.

Lap one
Got settle in held group and at around 5.50 minute miling I was only what can be described as …………….. and wondering what I had got myself in for the second time. The pace was incredibly fast and I was seeing many of those that had started behind me cruise past me at pace.

Lap two
Still people passing me but I was passing someothers which made me feel better, the pace was still fast and the course getting muddier in places. As I looked over across the field I could see the main pack around half a lap ahead. Considering they were 3 k laps you can imagine just how fast they were going. Head down and pacing on, I kept going.

Lap three
Bo…cks…yep stitch started to creep in. Now I don?t know the mechanics behind it and thought it was loosely based around food consumption to close to running but having not eaten since around 11 giving me a clear 3 and a half hours before the race this put this theory in to question. Ribs aching and pace now slowing I struggled on determined that I wouldn?t let the rest of the runners catch me.

Last Lap
To my surprise I manage to run off the stitch and was again able to up the pace again and hold on in there before the rest of the race. By this time I had heard over the tannoy that the winners had already finished and knowing I still had nearly a whole lap to do I could only wonder how fast they had done. Before I knew it I was climbing the final incline and down to the finish in just less than 45minutes which was the time I was estimating I would do going on previous form.

It turns out the winners finished almost 10 minutes in front and from the number of men disappointing men?s team representing Cornwall I was last but happy with my time. I had what turned out to actually be quite a relaxing weekend apart from 45minutes of pain I have no complaints. And also having just looked at the Bideford half marathon results to see my fellow team mate from the Cornwall team running the half Marathon gaining second with 1.11 ish time I will in future disregard anyone remarks about being a slow starter …………..Awesome result for him after a beasting cross country.

tom-2Thanks go to Sam Hill for the loan of his spikes and to Dave Varney from Newquay and Par RC for organising the weekend. Also well done to Tom , I am sure he has a future in athletics.

(All pictures are of Tom Wood)

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