NATIONAL XC CHAMPIONSHIP – SENIOR MEN
Updated: Oct 9, 2020
You have to go back six years for the last time that the Nationals were held this far North; that year four of us ventured up to Sunderland and froze to the bone, and that was before running through 12k of shin-deep slush. This year the contrast couldn’t have been greater, the six of us that made it to Harewood House, a few miles North of Leeds, were able to do a bit of sunbathing before the start.
At last one of the other regions has managed to come up with a venue that rivals Parliament Hill; the picturesque grounds looked magnificent in the sunshine with the house itself making an impressive backdrop and groups of red kites circling overhead. There was ample room for all the club tents and flags, and space to lay out a longer course than we are accustomed to allowing the men’s race of 12k to be of only two laps and thereby avoiding most of the lapping that frustrates both those that are doing the lapping and those that are being lapped (and the marshals) when there are three or more laps.
The course itself was excellent: we started with an uphill dash from the very wide start to the first corner where inevitably there was a bit of congestion, but less than at other venues, then we were into the first of two long laps each of which included three long sapping uphill sections as well as some downhills that allowed for a good gallop. Underfoot the ground was soft and uneven in places but thanks to the warm dry weather there was little mud.
Team scoring at the Nationals is for teams of six, and six is what we had so although our position of 119th was nothing to shout about at least we registered. Danny Kendall was our first finisher in 176th, he is in good shape in the lead up to the London marathon and had been hoping for a repeat of his top 100 finishes from 2015 and 2016, but reckoned that he just had an off day. Next was the ever dependable Christian Poulton, then the slow starting Graham Maynard managed to overtake and stay ahead of Clem Dixon as he usually has this season. Mark Newell and Ian Marshall ran the first lap together before Ian, still on the comeback trail from illness, started to struggle on the second lap but gamely carried on to finish and ensure that we had a team.
Not only was this the last cross country race of the season, it was also the last in our Cross Country Grand Prix in which your best six performances from the eight qualifying races count (the Kent League plus the London, Kent, Southern and National championships). Dean Lacy and Christian Poulton had already done enough to earn gold and silver respectively and here Clem Dixon just did enough to squeeze into bronze. The top twelve of the final standings are as follows:
Time to start plotting your strategy for getting among the medals next year!