County Cross Country Champs, 5 January

Combined Buckinghamshire & Bedfordshire Champs at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes

The cross country championships alternate between the two counties and 2013 was the turn of Buckinghamshire. Campbell Park is home territory for me, other Milton Keynes athletes and not one to miss. It is several years since it was last held in this location, a hilly area of the town, rising to a high point on the western side near the shopping area. Chris Simms and Peter Simpson were once again representing VRUK.

Despite the record amount of rain, the recent dry days, good drainage on most of the course, it was fairly fast apart from the hilly areas. This year‘s course avoided the steepest climb up to The Beacon but we did descend nearby after a 2-stage climb further away in the boggiest part of the course. The men’s course, if you were aged up to 59 was approximately 11.1K or 4 laps of a winding course with a large loop back but fast finish to each lap. The over 60s only needed to run 3 laps.

I had not done a lot of training partly due to the Christmas break so could not expect to compete with a lot of the good quality athletes. The short, sharp climbs were quite tough so had to take them steadily and see if I could save enough energy to pick up some places later in the race. By the third lap we were well spread out and the slower runners including myself were being lapped by a small number of the leaders and similarly some over-60s were lapped twice. My position on the 4th lap remained fairly constant. The position that mattered for me was amongst the Buckinghamshire competitors, I finished 62nd out of 72 and 6th out of the 11 V50s, time 55.46.

Chris Simms was not wearing the ideal footwear, his shoes are more suited to roads and hard trails. He still performed fairly well despite slipping over a few times, finishing 33rd, in the first half of the field in a time of 47.24.

The women started later and ran two laps or 5.5K, a short distance to ensure that the race meeting ended before darkness descended.

Next cross country meeting for Peter is the Sourthern XC Champs on 26 January at Hampstead Heath, London, the men’s race over 15K starting at 2.50pm. David Campbell will also be running.