Amelia hitting the sprint finish.
Anyone who knew me at school would have been very surprised to see me join the 703 senior women and 1,154 senior men racing at the annual South of England Cross Country Championships; I couldn’t even run the one-ish mile ‘trail-run’ we had at school. Now I was with the Hoops, all of us cold, muddy and crazy enough to voluntarily spend our Saturday afternoon slipping and sliding up and over Hampstead Heath.
With all the races starting at the bottom of Parliament Hill, and immediately heading straight up past the rest of the runners and supporters, it was an exciting start to the course. After the challenging start, the course momentarily levelled out, giving a chance to catch your breath and re-focus on the rest of the race…. which was mud, mud, mud and more mud (with lots of hills!).
The women’s race ended up being approximately 7.5k and the men’s an impressive 13.5k. The courses looped up through the centre of the Heath, before finishing on a steep decline back down the side of Parliament Hill and swooping round for a fast, flat sprint finish.
This was the first time I had raced this course and, although I had been warned, I was surprised at how tough it was. Sometimes when I’m struggling I have to remind myself that I do actually enjoy running, and during this race I started to think back on my past year with the club.
This past Tuesday was my year anniversary of tentatively coming along to a track session where by the end of the evening I had committed to joining the club, been added to the WhatsApp group and somehow ended up with a place in the Watford Half that weekend!
And with an eventual total of 3,680 finishers in the 10 races that form the annual South of England Cross Country Championships, it was always going to be another memorable day.
Check out the full Hoops' results from the SEAA Cross Country Championships here.