On a very soggy morning in November we descended on Milton Keynes for the second XC Chiltern League at Teardrop Lakes. I was particularly nervous for this race, because as my first XC season had so far consisted of two pretty dry runs, I was more than a bit apprehensive at the thought of slipping and sliding around in the mud! But after a hearty breakfast, we layered up with my hoody and waterproofs and headed on our way. After hitting a bit of traffic on the drive up, Danielle, Johnny, Sam and myself darted over to find our trusty gazebo and fellow teammates. Us girls had a matter of minutes to pin on our numbers and get our spikes on before heading to the start line. I could already see a rather steep hill ahead of us, so the butterflies were fluttering around in my stomach. There was a minute's silence to remember the lives of Stacey Burrows and Lucy Pygott, who were sadly killed when hit by a car on a training run earlier that week... and then we were off!
After digging my spikes in on the way up the first hill, the thought of going down the other side was much worse than it actually was! Luckily, it wasn’t too muddy, so after lots of little steps I was back in my stride. A few slippy sections aside, the course was pretty dry… considering how much it had rained earlier! By the third and steepest hill, I was was starting to get a bit cocky with slightly longer strides down… thankfully not sliding on my bum in the process! I crossed the finish line as quickly as I could following Jojo Braine, Nathan Barnard (in the U17 boys race) and Danielle Howe. Next up were the senior men. We braved the rain to cheer them on and found a spot where we could see them twice a lap. They sprinted into the finish with Johnny leading the Queens Park Harriers, followed by Neil Hutchison, Sam Sutherland, Matt Wooden (on his first XC), Richard Byrne, France Genovese and our Captain Bill O’Connor. After congratulating the boys, the only thing I had on my mind was a nice hot cup of tea, so we headed off to find one… buying some new 12mm and 9mm spikes on the way. Mud, I’m ready for you now! Emma