Final race of the season xc season… First National XC race…
LOTS OF MUD!
Upon arrival at Wollaton Park in Nottingham, where the the Nationals were to take place, I felt a mix of excitement and a little nerves. My experience of big xc events have not gone any further than BUCS xc and the Northern Champs. This was about to get a whole lot bigger.
The younger age groups were finishing their races as we arrived at the course and from this I got a good idea of what I might look like after the race: brown legged and plastered in mud! Being a lover of getting stuck in and getting mucky, this was funny to see and exciting. I have never seen people covered in so much mud. However.. it was hard to tell where the muddy areas of the course were, as everything in view seemed solid ground!
It’s safe to say that I found out soon enough!
With it being such a big race, clubs were organised into pens. However, with only two of us from City of Sheffield AC, I was told to fit in anywhere. Luckily, this allowed me to take my position at the start line in a near-empty pen. GUN SHOT..and we were off. Having lots of room around me, gave me no excuse for a good start. I remembered my aim after last week and stuck to it!
As soon as we were out of sight of the crowd, the first mud bath arrived. These were unavoidable ditches, full of mud slop. They made the course very fun! 2 big laps of the course went very quickly and I maintained a good pace throughout. With only a couple of small hills, the course felt a breeze compared to last week’s trails! Approaching the finish, the course changed slightly and we were climbing an area of grassland with big tufts of hard grass. It was hard to overtake in this area, but I gave it my best shot and reached the last corner before the slight downhill finish.
With a few last second places gained on the finish, I didn’t mind too much at being boxed in the end…with 3 or 4 of us finishing on the same second.
What a race! My only disappointment was that I hadn’t got quite as muddy as the kids!
Finishing 74th/788 is not a bad result for my first Nationals and therefore I can safely say that I’ve finished my 3rd xc season on a good note!
Bring on the summer months and triathlon season!!!