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Sun and games - Chiltern League, XC Event 1- Horspath Track, Oxford

London was gloomy and grey with a threat of rain (or was it just mizzle?) as the Hutchinson Braine wagon drew into Dobree Avenue to load up the gazebo. The veteran runner Susan followed the van in the golden Skoda, via a short cut cross country (get it) to avoid a traffic jam on the M40. Emily was on navigation standby. As we neared Oxford the clouds parted, blue skies filled the ... sky and new clouds bounced white and fluffy around us. We parked up in a massive BMW car park and followed the other “real” runners crossing the road into the field. Emily had about 20 minutes until her race – so we walked on as the Teeny Harriers were loaded into the buggy. Team Hutchinson Braine junior were then transferred to Gildas and Richard E who had cycled up from London (cross training).

10 points to whoever can spot the QPH flag!

The field was buzzing with runners, flags, gazebos, tents but could we see Bill – or the flag? ​We searched and searched – soon setting eyes on a man wearing a red sweatshirt, a cap and a limp. He was wielding a camera with a large lens so it was soon apparent it was the sadly injured Alban. He helped us in the quest to find our base. Then in the corner, nestled up to the hedge we saw the flag! Hurrah .. we hurried towards it – but it was just – the flag. Time ticked on. We went to Race HQ – nope – all our numbers had been picked up. ​Then we saw him, Bill, looking a bit lonely, looking for us. Emily got her number and ran off to the start like the proverbial gazelle. Sorry we did not see you off, Emma, Jojo and I (the women’s team) had a queue to join.

Emily at the start

Very quickly it was time for the women to run – we lined up – Jojo a bit further forward, Emma and I taking our places nearer the back. The gun went off and the usual small number of women of a certain age with anxiety issues jumped and went “oooo”.. and we were off. Emma and I had had a conversation with a local runner about the course – there was a big hill at the start – “Oh” said Susan, “we have a very hilly park run, we will be fine”... the over confidence of the veteran runner. The sun was shining – we ran out of the field, Emma had run a park run already and wasn’t feeling 100% so hung back with the Veteran. There was some chat (just a bit...) and then it was the hill – dry as a bone – steep, long .. it went on, we started to pass people, it went on, more people were walking, we went on – had to stop talking... it went on. It went on a long way. Then we were at the top – lovely green grass, colourful autumnal trees, flat and dry. Then a left hand turn and down, down, down, down, in and out of sunlight dappled trees, not an ounce of mud anywhere.

Time to go ladies!

A man in a cap with a red sweatshirt kept surprising us with a large camera – in the end he made us jump! Back into the field, round the football pitch and over the line – Jojo had been in front the whole way – Emma and I ran in a bit puffed but having enjoyed it – Emma’s first cross country – possibly the driest and warmest ever, but done and dusted. Well done.

Jumpin' Hoops

The women and Emily who had finished strong sat about and had a cup of tea in the sun whilst the men: Kerr Millar, Sam Sutherland, Paul Scullion, Richard Byrne and guest runner Victor Tsui all ran off in exactly the same direction – only they had to do the same lap twice – big hill, two times. Susan went over to cheer them in – not saying anything about the others – she was amazed by the state of the men at the end, lying on the floor, gasping, retching, and generally really looking like they had tried really hard. Well done.

Men at the ready

We definitely need more people next time for the points – we were the smallest team by far. Small but perfectly formed. And next time we all need to let Bill know if we are running. Under 20 45 - Emily Godwin - 16:35 Senior Women 156 - Joanna Braine - 28:24 157 - Emma Jones - 33:02 158 - Susan Kennedy - 33:02 Senior Men: 276 - Kerr Millar - 31:22 277 - Sam Sutherland - 35:40 278 - Paul Scullion - 41:34 279 - Richard Byrne - 42:03 280 - Victor Tsui - 43:57

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