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Horsing around: Middlesex Cross Country Championships report

The Hoops hit Horseden Hill!

The first cross country fixture of the new year saw eight junior and 21 senior intrepid Harriers make their way to Horseden Hill, Greenford to take part in the Middlesex Cross Country Championships.

With 'Happy New Year' hugs and discussions of Christmas indulgences over, focus of attention quickly progresses to the cold, acceptability of running in multiple layers, the extent of the mud, the length of spikes required and the topic of the day: Should the men's and women’s races be of equal distance?

A quick warm up, nip to the portaloo and it’s time for the women to set off. A slightly shorter lap, followed by two main laps make up a total distance of 8 kilometres. There were no monster hills, but a lot of undulating terrain, sections peppered with divots (Unfortunately young Harrier Noah Barnard experienced the sharp end of one of these earlier in the day and succumbed to a sprained ankle–thanks to the quad ambulance for getting him back to the start safely.) and boggy patches made it quite a technical course to navigate.

After a Christmas of attempting to stick to Hansons training plans, Will and I are feeling pretty fit but a bit heavy-legged. It’s the longest cross country distance for us so far, so it’s tricky to figure out pacing. However, running with fellow Hoopsters—or desperately trying to keep them in my sights—is always a good plan and worked pretty well for me, thanks Amelia and Nat!

And with the amazing support of the boys, John and Jean, Georgie and not forgetting Monika offering her own words of wisdom (Must relax my shoulders!), we were soon enjoying our final sprints to the line and having to make the decision for next year’s race: Will it be 8, 10 or 12 km?

Next up the men (with Will taking over the story). This time it’s four full laps making up a total distance of 12km. First lap nerves start to settle, Matt is already well ahead and out of sight, Sam and Thomas also quickly pull away and make their way up the field. One lap done and the thought: “Surely there’s not THREE more of these?” repeats itself in my head like an annoying earworm, but by the start of the third lap I’m into a comfortable stride and feel plenty of juice still left in the tank. Pass a bare foot runner on the last lap and into the finish funnel to be presented with my token.

Before the race I would have chosen 8km for next year due to my innate desire to always seek the path of least effort, but having done it and really enjoyed it (well, the last two laps, anyway) and decide 12km isn’t so bad after all.

Full results are available here.

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