It was a depressingly cold, grey drizzly day for the final Birmingham league fixture of the year at the Crypt School, Gloucester. This was the same location as the previous fixture, in this league, though the course was altered. The course started off in a similar vein too the previous fixture, fast running round gently angled fields with some muddy patches. After two straightforward field laps there were three longer more technical laps, some tighter turns, some short steep banks, only 6-8 feet but taxing once you’ve done ten or so.
In the race Steve Ratcliffe continued his excellent form, deciding to test himself out by going off with the leaders. He didn’t quite manage to hang on but still finished well in 13th. Tim Twentyman had another good run finishing in 26th, much preferring the easy angled fields to the more taxing technical running. Martin Bailey was pleased to get into the top 100 (100th!). Mark Cooper ran well being close to his 10k pb (road) time on a course which was close to 10k, and very close (9.92k) on a generous Garmin. Dave Crowther, making his Birmingham league debut (I think), had a good run to finish 129th. Rob Haines, having his first XC run for Newcastle raced hard to be sixth counter and was pleased to be back racing after a couple of months struggling with injury. Neil Gerrity completed the ninth race of his XC season which has been plagued by shoes which come off easily in the mud, not good in a wet winter. Bruce tried hard early on but was suffering from the after effects of some over enthusiastic training on Thursday, leaving him a little tired and with a sore knee. Nigel Symms completed his tenth race of the season with his highest Birmingham league finish this season.
Although the team performed well on the day, the outcome was as miserable as the weather. The fact that a couple of key runners were missing meant that we were relegated. It’s not all bad news, the team at Gloucester contained five runners that have not run Birmingham league races in previous seasons, runners that are quite keen to improve their running, so hopefully promotion next season.