The day started well, there was a warm current of air coming up from the continent and London had experienced an extraordinary amount of rain the previous few weeks which set up for a great XC event.
I knew this race from the year previous – there had been six hardy runners that year who had all come along despite the wind/rain/cold. A definite highlight was getting together and cheering Bill on up the final straight toward the end funnel. But back to this year – we all gathered near the QPH flag (definitely the easiest to spot amongst the group) and discussed the Soar vests which Sam brought for people to debut/take home. The issue of preserving the new vest integrity from pin holes became a pertinent topic at this point, with magnets and a belt solution being two options to help with this.
From Soar vests then to the race itself, there was little time for many of us to linger at the start, and even less for Gildas and Louise, as they had found the site tricky to find arriving as the race gun was being held up. The course had been returned to the original, different from the previous year, having been disturbed by an event in the summer which meant an alternative route was found.
It retained some of the nice features, although a particularly interesting part where a rivulet, a bend, a slight narrowing and some protruding bushes all converged at one point and had made for some tricky negotiation/fierce elbowing (delete as appropriate) among competitors as to who should go first/give way was left out unfortunately. Also, some of the steepest hills were missing, but there were no complaints amongst the crew, we were grateful to finish the semi-challenging course. The course was about 7.5km in length, it toured through woodland with a thick layer of dead leaves, down through a stream, up along a rough grassy bank and incorporated a few memorable stony pathways, which jarred with the spikes and got me wondering just how long they last and whether I should really be getting a new pair.
The finish was both nicely flat and quickly over, great things when you’re at the end of a race. We enjoyed tea afterwards, thanks to Emma and Sam and could hang around for some post-race chat in the warm weather. Spikes away, the only thing remaining was to catch the tube home, a hop down the Piccadilly line for me, with some great memories from another day of XC.