This weekend was dominated by the North Staffs Cross Country League at Stafford Common on a wet, cold Saturday afternoon.
Everyone gathered on Stafford Common to find Bernie had set up the Gazebo – with a roof !!! Thanks Bernie, it is appreciated and even though you got a good soaking we hope our turn out was worth it.
We assembled with promises of ‘fingers of fudge’, mulled wine, homemade cakes and were all offered tea and coffee to warm the fingers before the racing commenced. There was also plenty of discussion on what footwear to use (all amazed at Kirsty’s size 2 spikes) and how many layers to wear.
The set up with cross country is several junior races go off early starting about 11am before the ladies go off at 1.30pm. The ladies compete in a 5k event (two loops of the common) and the Men in a 10k event (3 extended loops of the common) setting off at 2.10pm.
11 female bats ran with the top 4 counting for the points, 1st in for the club in 23:00 was Pippa Steele with Amy Gamble (23:46), Philippa Boote (24:15) and Julie McArthur (24:20) the top four, closely followed by Kirsty Stephenson (24:24). Others included Pam Davies (26:05), Alison Brind (26:30), Anne-Marie Mountford (27:37), Julie Ebrey (28:04), Julie Boulton (30:07) and Marianne Stopka (32:51) completing her first ever cross country run.
We are seeing a really strong team with the ladies now and they came 4th in their division on Saturday with a brilliant points haul. Also with getting more members running we are pushing down other teams so a big thank you to all the girls for a tremendous effort on Saturday. (If anyone wants to write a brief overview of their experience of the race please feel free to send it to me).
As expected the rain started to fall about 10 past 2 so as the ladies were tucking into the mulled wine the men started around the course which by now had been nicely churned up, I am glad I trialled some spikes because I think I would have gone ‘head over heels’ (the polite version) had I not worn them.
The course basically starts with a steady climb before a few twists and turns around the end of the field with a nice little ditch to jump/tread carefully through which as you can probably imagine several runners disappeared into never to be seen again, one of the perils of Cross Country running. We then circled back onto the main field before looping round and completing two more laps.
The thing with cross country is because of the laps you get plenty of encouragement from your teammates, however the bloke next to me kept wondering who was shouting his name until on the last lap he realised it was Kirsty shouting c’mon Paul (his name was Karl?!), I’m not sure if Kirsty’s accent had anything to do with it !! On the last lap Amy gave me some words of wisdom ‘every vest matters’ and hopefully my sprint finish passing a couple of Trentham lads and a Stafford Harriers runner gave us a few extra points as I actually finished in the top four for the club.
9 men ran with Tim Hulse first home in 42:04 with Mick Downes (42:26), Phil Cape (43:05) and Paul Phillips (46:48) the top four. With Jamie McArthur (49:34), Nick Boulton (52:11), Richard Shaw (52:49), Tim Clegg (63:12) and Dave Turton (64:35) completing the race.
Although the men aren’t quite as strong as the ladies team regarding points it is great to have a team out this year and to be competitive. Fingers crossed we can get a few more out at Park Hall on the 14th November and push on again.
We all enjoyed the snacks on offer and Mick Downes even bought out a few bottles of beer to quench the thirst after a relatively demanding 10.4k before we all went our separate ways (a few of us via the Shirehorse) to dry out.
Big thanks again to Bernie for organising and also to each and everyone one of you for racing on Saturday.
Go Bats !!
Ps. Sorry no pictures this week unless Mike Keeling has some to add