It was another wet windy afternoon for the final NSCCL race of the season, at Uttoxeter. The weather was at least a bit better than forecast the previous day, a bit warmer and the rain not persistently heavy, but still not too pleasant.
It was the first NSCCL race at Uttoxeter. The course was situated on the field inside the horse race track. The general opinion of the course seemed to be that it was a bit more interesting than people expected. There was a hint of a climb and descent, the course wiggled about, there was a stream and the ground varied from fairly heavy going to six inches of sloppy mud. While the ground added a bit of variety to the course, it also made the races a lot more tiring for the legs than might have been expected, for a relatively flat course.
The women’s team started the day mid table, no real chance of prizes or relegation. Michelle led the team in, in 11th place, good enough to clinch an individual first place in the V35 competition. Rachel Wakefield and Hannah Jones were second and third counters. Amanda Wood completed the team and was closely followed by Sue Twardochleb and Charli Weller. They were backed up by Jane Holt, Amy Whitehurst and Lorraine Droogmans.
The men’s team started the day one place above relegation, having been last team in Division 1 at Park Hall. The threat of relegation meant Michelle’s powers of persuasion went into overdrive. She managed to get former star runner, Phil Bradshaw back from Australia, Mike Ridley back from a work trip to Finland and Steve Ratcliffe back from, the slightly less exotic, Milton Keynes. Perhaps even more impressively she got Ben Bewley to turn out, against his better judgement, to run round a muddy field.
All the reinforcements ran well. Steve Ratcliffe’s run was probably the performance of the day. He started off relatively slowly before passing a number of runners including Mike Ridley but just failing to catch Phil B. Phil, Steve and Mike finished 10th,11th and 14th.
21st for Tim Twentyman ensured a first age group victory in the NSCCL (V50). The first four were backed up by Martin Davies, improving from 79th at Park Hall to 60th and Martin Bailey having his best North Staffs race of the season in 98th. This meant a team score of 214, easily avoiding relegation and third on the day.
The men had 16 runners out and looking at the list I think six of those that didn’t count on this occasion had counted in previous races, this season, and I can think of three more counters that weren’t there this time, giving 15 different people that counted for the team. I think that shows a promising depth of runners.
Ben B ran fairly well in the mud to finish just outside the count in 111th. Mark Cooper just came out on top in a close race with David Crowther, 127th and 129th. Bruce J and Neil G finished 158 and 184. In what was probably the closest Newcastle battle of the day John Alcock just pipped Ben Miller, 191st and 192nd. Ben did have a bath in the mud at some point on the course and might well be purchasing a pair of spikes before his next cross country. MarkCotton was just behind Ben and John, in 200th. These were backed up by Paul Wakefield and Nigel Symms in 241st and 257th.
Thanks to Charli for another delicious, energy packed, post race treat. Thanks also to the volunteers who helped with marshalling, disc distribution etc. Carl Martin, Jane Holt, Michelle Buckle and Nicola Brownsword, and anyone else I may not be aware of.
A quick turn around was required to get out for Michelle’s post race curry and beer night. It turned out it was a beer and more beer night, though a brief rest for a sandwich was allowed.
The general state of the ground everywhere at Uttoxeter, including in the club tent, meant that Sunday involved cleaning even more muddy kit than normal, with a hangover.
Thanks everyone who competed in the league this season.
Finally a literary quote, with a running reference, which is perhaps appropriate for cross country.
“He was sitting seemingly indifferent to food; and on his face, which was smudged with coal-dust and sweat, was such a smile as men wear after going up a mountain or at the end of a long run-tired, charming, and as if they have been through something worth while.”
So I hope you all sat around on Saturday evening with charming smiles on your faces, though personally I can’t imagine much indifference to food!
(Seems to be website problem at the moment, can’t upload pictures.)