• Clem Dixon

Preview of the Senior and Vets Cross Country Season


It seems all wrong to be writing this in a heatwave but the cross country season starts in just seven weeks. Here are the dates for your diary:

15/10/2016 Kent League Stanhill Farm, Wilmington 22/10/2016 Club 5 mile championship Joyden’s Wood, Bexley 29/10/2016 Kent League Somerhill School, Tonbridge 05/11/2016 Reigate Relays Priory Park, Reigate 12/11/2016 Kent League Sparrows Den, Hayes (No women, No over 70s) 19/11/2016 London championships Parliament Hill, Hampstead 26/11/2016 South of Thames 5 mile Ham Lands, Richmond 26/11/2016 Kent League Danson Park, Welling (Women and 70+ only) 03/12/2016 Kent Vets TBA (Over 40s only) 10/12/2016 Southern Vets Horspath, Oxford (Over 40s only) 17/12/2016 South of Thames 7.5 mile TBA 27/12/2016 Club 7.5 mile championship Joyden’s Wood, Bexley 07/01/2017 Kent championships Brands Hatch, West Kingsdown 28/01/2017 Southern championships TBA 11/02/2017 Kent League Foots Cray Meadows, Bexley 18/02/2017 Club 10 mile championship Joyden’s Wood, Bexley 25/02/2017 National championships Wollaton Park, Nottingham

Please note one important change from last year: it will no longer be possible to enter Kent League races on the day. If you are on our distribution lists you will be asked to confirm your availablity in advance (as has always been done for championship races). If you are not on our distribution lists but would like to be please contact us as follows:

Men: Clem Dixon, clemdixon23@gmail.com Women: Maryse Ford, maryseford@btinternet.com

For anyone thinking about taking up cross country running for the first time here are the answers to some frequently asked questions, but do ask us if there is anything else that you would like to know:


Q: Why run in muddy fields when you can run on roads? A: Because it's fun! And although there will be some mud and hills these are not artificially created assualt course style races of the type that some people pay an arm and a leg to enter. People come to cross country for many different reasons: track runners to build up endurance during the winter, marathon and ultra runners can count a cross country race as their tempo run, parkrun regulars might want to try something a little more challenging, and a little more interesting.


Q: I am just a jogger, won't the standard be too high for me? A: No! People of all standards run in these races, even in something as prestigious as the English National Championships there is plenty of room for everyone at the back of the field.


Q: What distances are the races? A: Anything from 5 to 10 miles, although there is also a relay that we enter where each leg is just 2.5 miles.


Q: How much does it cost? A: We charge £3 per runner for our club championship races. All of the other races are free! (that is to say that the club pays the entry fees).


Q: How do I enter? A: For the club races we just take entries on the day. All of the other races need to be entered in advance, once on our distribution lists you will be pestered with emails inviting entries to fixtures as they come up.


Q: How do I get to the races? A: For the more local races most people generally make their own way, either by car or public transport depending on the venue, but if you need a lift it can usually be arranged. For those further afield there will be opportunities for car sharing or for travelling by train as a group.


Q: Do I need to buy special shoes? A: No, if you only have a pair of ordinary trainers you should not be put off running, and much of the time you will not be at a serious disadvantage. Having said that once you have tried it you might decide to buy something with better grip in muddy conditions, in which case you have two choices: spikes or studs. Spikes have the advantage of giving the best grip when it is very muddy, and since the spikes themselves are removable you can replace them as they wear down or even select the optimum spike length for the conditions. However, many courses these days include paths that can be quite compacted, or may even have short stretches of tarmac, where spikes will give poor grip, will be uncomfortable and will wear down quickly. If you only wanted to invest in one pair of shoes I would recommend the more versatile studs. These have a rubber studded sole and may be sold as trail shoes or fell shoes depending on how deep the tread is.


Q: Do I need a club vest? A: Yes. Our three club races are open to all and there is no dress code but for all of the other races you will have been entered to run for the club and must wear a vest. Of course if the weather is bad you can always wear your vest over something else, although you may need to be prepared for some sarcastic comments from the hard core vests-only-whatever-the-weather contingent.

If you need to buy a vest the contact is John Corcoran (corcoran155@aol.com, 020 8319 2174).

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