Another Wootton cross-country

Last week went by incredibly quickly and I feel like I never got the chance to stop to regroup myself.  It was very much go, go, go!

Thursday my day off was spent madly packing, unpacking and repacking for the Gower marathon adventure I had over the weekend and prepping for lessons on Friday.  Then on Friday as soon as the last bell rang I was out the school door quicker than the year 11s only to sit in a queue full of cars to make my way home before being picked up and transported over to South Wales where I joined the rest of my club running the Endurance Life event.

More on marathon number six later this week though as I realised I never wrote about my first cross-country race of the season which took place last Sunday.

We were back in Northampton last week for the Wootton cross-country as last year.  In fact when I read my recap back it pretty much perfectly describes the event and how I felt a year later on although the order of the laps was slightly different this time.  Last year there were a huge number of bottlenecks very early on into the event so this year the organisers decided to trial two laps of the starting field before setting off on a large lap through the woodland.  This worked much better than the previous year and at several places where there had been bottlenecks there was no longer a problem.

There were still bottlenecks later on into the course though.  The first being about 1.7 miles into the race.  I arrived at the bottom of a short, steep climb along with ten other runners.  I’m far enough back in the pack of club runners that not everyone around me is confident enough to throw themselves up the climbs with no pauses and this had held up a number of people before us.  Then, as runners had been stood still for a couple of minutes no one had any momentum to push themselves to the top, resulting in several runners slipping through the fresh mud back to the bottom of the hill again repeatedly.  This is where you learn just how friendly other runners are as everyone at the top was extending out hands for those still at the bottom.  I pushed myself up and then turned to help a couple more before running on.

Wootton cross-countryPhoto taken bout three miles in.  Clearly I am still unable to have a flattering race photo taken at cross-country!

The route this time was two small laps of the inner field, a large loop around the outside of the land, another of the small loops, another large and then finishing with a small.  Meaning we actually ran 0.3 miles further than we had done last year.  I was running strong until the brief two minute pause at the bottleneck.  It completely took me away from my rhythm and I struggled to get back into the same stride again.  We bottlenecked once more the second time we ran the large loop but this time there were only two others waiting in front of me to get up the hill.

The best bit about cross-country is (obviously!) the free cake at the end and Wootton put on a magnificent selection.  In fact they had so much food going at the end that one of our runners headed home with 5 white cheese rolls, 5 brown cheese rolls, 2 white ham rolls, 1 brown ham and a chocolate cornflake cake!

Cross-country rollsI wish there had been a photo taken of the cake display though.  Definitely one to race again for the cake!

I did have a little panic the morning of the race when I couldn’t find my cross-country number.  The problem with cross-country is that the numbers are dished out at the end of September and then you keep that same number right the way through until the end of the season in January.  That’s a long time for me to know exactly where my number is!!!  I made do with a paper version this week although the need for special race number paper soon became clear and it’s a good job I’ve since found my official number again.
137/168 female runners
388/425 overall
4.61 miles
46:41 (including a two minute stop at the first bottleneck and a couple of other delays on the route)

Do you run cross-country?
Did you ever take part in cross-country at school?
– Everyone at Primary school had to take part in the cross-country which was about three miles long along local fields in November.  I hated it at the time but I did include the route as part of a long training run last Winter when I was staying at my parents!

8 thoughts on “Another Wootton cross-country

  1. I don’t run cross country at all, mostly because of my terrible balance and huge fear of injuring myself doing it! I seriously respect anyone that takes on a cross country race, regardless of their time.

    I also have terrible memories of running at school. Considering that I couldn’t finish the 100m sprint, I’m sure you can imagine how I fared in cross country, dragging my tubby and overweight self round the 2 mile course we had to run in shorts that were embarrassingly short (mandatory PE kit that did not flatter big and pear-shaped people like myself) in freezing temperatures. The only people who ever finished behind me were the rebellious kids who basically boycotted the run and walked the whole way, so it was just a lot of shame and embarrassment. I always wished I was one of those lithe, athletic and thin girls who breezed through the races effortlessly though…I wanted to run so, so badly! I suppose running at school definitely gave me an incentive to draw on later in life, because I wanted to put those memories to rest. I’ve still yet to conquer my fear of cross country though!
    Jess recently posted…How To Deal With Negative ThoughtsMy Profile

    1. I really did not enjoy running at school either. There were four girls in my year at primary school and I was guaranteed to come last at Sports Day every single year!
      I’m pretty sure – thinking back – that we wore tracksuits of our choice for PE lessons (good old 90s!) I think it’s really interesting how many runners I know now used to hate running when they were at school. I certainly wouldn’t have believed it back then if anyone had told me that I would be running a 70 mile ultramarathon at the age of 29!

  2. I have done one cross country race- by mistake! It was called the Autumm challenge and it was 5 miles- I thought that was a good distance and little did I realise what I was letting myself into! I loved it, but at the time didn’t have the right shoes.
    I hated cross country at school- I was awful at sports and just could not run the whole way, and of course we never had any lessons on how to run, we were just told the route and then off we went. So I pretty much walked the whole way.
    I love the muddy parkrun now though- so much fun splashing through puddles.
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Oh I do like to be beside the seasideMy Profile

    1. By mistake?! Oh no! That must have been a shock!
      I don’t remember ever getting shown how to run either. Yes, everyone can run but I’m pretty sure there were several who would have had better experiences if they had been shown how to do it!

  3. I’m not a huge fan of cross-country races if I’m honest. I do like trail races occasionally but, like Jess said, I’m also a bit clumsy and unbalanced so the chances of me falling over or injuring myself are quite high! I really enjoy road races where I can really let myself go with abandon. But a good trail race always feel epic!
    We did cross-country running at school. This was way before I realised I actually enjoyed running. I came first out of the girls when we had to do it as one big group (around a sewage farm as well, I’m not even joking – it smelt disgusting). I subsequently joined the x-country team but just never learnt how to pace myself and always shot off right at the beginning and then died very soon after, which made me hate it so I gave up. I wish I’d have continued!
    Free cake –> always a winner!!
    Anna @AnnaTheApple recently posted…What did you expect?My Profile

    1. I think being unbalanced is something that improves over time. I’ve run along lots of muddy, slippy slopes just recently that I would never have stayed upright on two years ago! I have much more confidence when it comes to just throwing myself into/down it now!
      That’s so interesting that you used to be in the XC team at school. I never even knew we had one back then. It made me laugh that your route went around a sewage farm as well. Our cross-country race this week takes us through some cow slurry! I’ve managed to avoid this race until now!

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