South of England Masters Cross Country, 10 Dec

Lloyds Park, Croydon

The cross country season started here for Peter Simpson after missing the Herbert’s Hole event from Chesham a few weeks earlier due to public transport delays. The event on Lloyd’s Park in Surrey included separate races for the South of England Inter-Counties Championships (7 events), masters men’s V50-69, women’s V35+ and men’s V40-49 so the race schedule was fairly complex. The men’s V50-69 event was the first at 11am so I had to be there early and luckily the train was on time.

The organisation was rather haphazard at Lloyd’s Park but at least we had a changing room. Conditions were dry in relation to cross country but still frosty in the shade so had to look out for the hard patches rather than the opposite. Training for me has been rather limited in the autumn with few events so could not expect a repeat of previous times. The course was rather unknown but from views of the surrounding area it did not appear to be too challenging.

Off we went at 11am, heading across a sports pitch and into the woods. I immediately took up a rear position and soon lost further places but I was not aiming for a time, more like a restart with other cross country events scheduled for January & February when I hope to be more competitive. The course was one small loop and two large loops but coming towards the end of the first large loop I was beginning to doubt my fitness. The main hill was at the start of the two large loops and on the second occasion it was a struggle but a few others were also finding it hard which gave me a little boost. Following the main hill I settled into a stride for that last lap and after the remaining climbing was over finished fairly well although not passing any competitors. The time of nearly 47 mins was some 3-4 minutes slower than other times that I recall at different venues although XC courses are not meant to be accurately measured.

Sid Delara was also entered but I had not seen him at the start so unfortunately he did not make and it was only when I finished that Sid approached me to say that the trains had let him down, arriving 15 minutes. He did have the option of running the men’s V40-49 event after 2pm but decided that the competition would be too tough due to the age difference. We did however watch the remaining of the inter-counties races and the men’s v40-49.

Next cross country race – Buckinghamshire & Bedfordfordshire Champs, 7 January

Peter Simpson