Our biggest cross country turn out in years, topped with some brilliant performances. Big well done to Georgia Holden for coming second in the women's race, here's her report:
"On Saturday 20 November I joined roughly 50 of my fellow Hoopsters in the South of England Athletics Association Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill. Back home in Australia, the cross country season in the UK has a fierce reputation and the Hampstead Heath race is one that is always mentioned with many red alerts….
The words ‘hilly, muddy, swampy and savage’ were ringing in my ears as I signed up and I couldn’t have been more excited to experience this iconic race. A quick google search and some advice from Jen the ‘shoe guru’ helped me secure a fresh pair of running cross country spikes. All set, the boggier the better.
We were fortunate to have a still and dry November day which made for near perfect running conditions. My fellow Hoopsters assured me that this year was blissful compared to the thick marshland of years gone by. We gathered for a team photo and the atmosphere amongst the team was energising.
The race began straight up a monster of a hill and there was no time to warm into it. I found myself towards the front of the pack by the top of the first hill and began to play ‘cat and mouse’ with some of the other competitors. The course was undulating and I found myself overtaking people on the uphill and getting overtaken by swarms of girls as I struggled to navigate the downhill sections.
The course was in fantastic condition and there were very few soggy sections. I was so appreciative of the QPH support crew who had dotted themselves around the course to cheer us on. After the first lap, I found myself in second position and now feeling more confident about the course, was able to create a larger gap between the pack of girls behind.
The eventual winner of the race unfortunately took 2 wrong turns and had to wheel back on herself to get back on course. Despite this, she was able to cruise past me and finished strong. It was an impressive performance to watch.
By the end of the two laps I was absolutely spent and was grateful that the course wasn’t another 200m longer or I would have been overtaken. There was a medal ceremony afterwards and it was great to meet and chat to the other podium finishers.
My main-takeaway from the day was just how much I love team events. Running is very much an individual endeavour but the cross country series is a time when you can line up on the starting line next to 20 odd teammates and feel like you are running for each other. It was great to throw on some tracksuits and get out to support the men’s race. Boy I was glad to be done for the day!
Overall, I had a fantastic day and left feeling very proud to be wearing the white and red. I am happy to have ticked this race off my bucket list and I am looking forward to the next one! Thank you to all who helped to organise the day.