A good number of brave harriers made the journey up to Culham, near Oxford, last Saturday (5 December), to take part in the Chiltern League’s latest cross country race. The weather was, in a way, ‘perfect’ for cross country: windy and cold, with dark clouds overhead. In fact it was very windy. But everyone embraced it with gusto, despite a couple of runners almost being knocked out by the QPH flag before the running even began. The girls took to the starting blocks first, with Madeleine, Catherine, Eleanor and me (Danielle) all reluctantly stripping down to our running gear – and of course beloved hoops – and trying desperately to keep warm before the race started. We set off at 1.15pm, with the course taking some tricky twists and turns. It was two laps for the women, one small and one big. Unfortunately I had to drop out after 2km as I felt unwell (it later turned out to be flu), however the rest of the girls did the club proud and ran some impressive times: Madeleine Fforde came through first in 27:51, placing fourth in our division. Eleanor Buck finished in 30:20, in 19th position in division 2. Catherine Kaar completed the race in 31:25, not far behind in 24th place. Perhaps more importantly, the QPH ladies are now ranked 6th in the league after three races, so it’ll be important to keep up the momentum in the New Year when we have races in Luton and Milton Keynes to look forward to! After the womens’ heroic efforts (although perhaps not mine), it was the men’s turn to strip down to their short shorts and take on the nasty hills that the Culham course had to offer. They set off at 2pm and completed three laps (each one increasing in length), with a total distance of approximately 8.5km. Sadly Gildas also had to drop out because he wasn’t feeling well, but the rest of the men did very well considering the unpleasant conditions: Johnny Suttle finished in 32:25, coming fourth (him too!) among the senior men in division 2. Neil Hutchison was next over the line, finishing in 37:30 and coming in 25th in division 2. Nick Stallman came in third in 38:21 and 29th in the division. Paul Scullion finished in 64th position in 42:11. Rich Davies was hot on his heels and came through in 42:51, in 66th position. Alban Millas ran the race in 55:15, the 100th runner past the finish line. Bill O’Connor came round in 64:04, in position 105. The men still have some work to do to catch up with the ladies; after three races QPH senior men are ranked 10th in division 2. But remember there are more opportunities to gain points in 2016, and the more runners we have the better the result! If you’d like to come to any of the races but aren’t sure how to get there, lifts are usually arranged in advance with passengers contributing petrol money to the driver. If you’re nervous about running cross country, don’t hesitate to ask other members of the club – many of us are new to cross country too!