Southern XC Championships – Senior Men
Dean Lacy in 19th was our first finisher, Danny Kendall (above) making his first cross country appearance of the season was 87th and there was another good performance from James MacDonald for 165th. Josh Lawless, Christian Poulton and Clem Dixon completed the six to score team which was 32nd, not great but two positions higher than last year when we were closer to home.
Also running were Mal Pires and Mark Newell although the latter does not appear in the results: we had been warned in advance that a cut-off of 55 minutes would be applied at the end of the second lap (of three) and that results would not be recorded for anyone finishing in over 90 minutes. These timings were not strictly enforced but Mark still had to put up with being shouted at that the course was closed and that he was running at his own risk. One has sympathy for marshals and recorders having to stay out as it starts to get dark in what turned out to be pretty unpleasant weather, but applying cut-offs does seem contrary to the inclusive, non-elitist spirit of cross country racing which is one of the reasons why we love it.
Numbers were significantly down on three years ago when the Southerns were last held here, and far lower than when the venue is Parliament Hill, probably because the organizers had initially been adamant that there would be no parking available prompting some clubs to threaten to boycott the event, there was only one Tonbridge runner for example (Max Nicholls in 3rd). There was also the added irritation of a bus replacement on the railway, although the organizers can hardly be blamed for that. Some parking was finally made available to those that had pre-booked although it was hard to find and some way from the course. Those of us who know how thankless a task it can be to put on races don’t like to complain too much but the folks at the SEAA don’t do themselves any favours.
All of which is a pity because it is a great course. The longer distance (15k) and the seven big hills (one on the first small lap and two on each of the three big ones) make it more of an endurance event than any other in the calendar. This year the very muddy state of the course and the inclement weather also contributed to making it a testing race. Some of the descents were very slippery; I was by no means the only one to end up on my backside! It will probably be three years until we next get the chance to run here, but I am already looking forward to it.
Although currently injured David Reader also made the trip and we have him to thank for the photos.