The English National XC

If you know me,you will know I LOVE cross country.In my opinion it is the purest and best form of racing,and as a bonus the strength you gain from a winter racing over XC will make you fly come Spring road racing time.

Despite bordering on Evangelical in my promotion of XC, I have had a less than ideal winter season of it,hitting only a couple of races due to work and injury.

This Sat despite still not being in the best shape I was determined to rectify a crap season and race ‘The National’

Now I have never been to the national XC as it’s a big logistical project for most clubs (only registered club runners can race),but this year I decided if i wanted to go I shouldnt expect everyone else to do the work so set about pestering, mithering and begging my team mates to come with me.

We ended up taking 13 runners (plus my wife the resident photographer).

Meeting on a lovely sunny morning down at club we all travelled up together on a minibus put on for free by the club.Nervous chit chat and piss taking was flowing and I just knew it was going to be a great day.

On arriving and setting up base camp with our lovely new gazebo,it was time to soak in the surroundings.



A small snippet of the club flags and tents that stretched over the estate.

The location was Harewood house in Leeds and it was stunning.Rolling hills as far as the eye could see with Harewood house itself sitting atop a hill,looking down on us menacingly.

The Ladies race was soon underway and while spectating our ladies ,the highlight of the day for me played out……….

A Gent stood near us pulled out his phone to take a few snaps and in doing so dropped £15 in notes just as the ladies got to our part of the course. Now with just over 1000 ladies in the race he had absolutely no chance of getting said money until they passed. After around maybe 20 shouts of “ooh a tenner” “ooh a fiver” It looked like the race had calmed enough for the gent to grab his dropped dinner money.


Just like the red kites that circled the cloudless sky all day,a lady whose club shall remain nameless ,swooped down and grabbed the tenner running off with screams of glee!

The place erupted!

Everyone around the poor bloke had become more engrossed in his two notes than the race and absolutely fell about laughing! I was laughing so hard my ribs hurt!!

Fair play to the bloke he took it in good spirit.I would of been gutted,especially as it was nearly £3 for a coffee!

The start of the men’s race was like nothing I had ever experienced,over 2000 men set off on an uphill start,racing for a sharp left hand turn that was half as wide as the bottom of the hill. Chaos was an understatement and the thought of getting a spike in the back of the calf was at the forefront of my mind.Luckily for me however it was an elbow in the nose that got me,but hey at least no cut leg!

The ground was firm and the competition was fast,the first of two laps I felt like i was in a school of fish ,just being swept along by the current.

Lap two calmed down a little and I could settle into a much more comfy rhythm. I knew I wasn’t going to set the word alight with my performance due to a less than ideal last few months of training but I gave it everything I had and on cresting the final hill I just hung on for dear life to the finish.

A little bit a breathing room on the second lap to pose for my wife!



I finished Fifth counter for my team in 51.45 for 12k (A mere 15 minutes behind the winner!)

BUT I had next to no pain in my foot (bar a stabbing pain where i think the spike bed has raised underneath the ball of my foot). My treatment over the last couple of weeks for my plantar fasciitis seems to be working and i’m a little more confident in completing my next adventure in a few days, my return to the Chester 50 .

I know the Blog has been a little sparse of late,but I don’t know how many times i could Say “crap training week ,foot hurts.” before i threw my laptop out of the window!

Normal service will resume from now.