Cross Country Introduction Report by Zoe Dickinson
Cross country running you say? I remember that, setting off from school in horrendous weather, being left for dead by the ‘sporty types’, then never being chosen to represent to the school because only the top 3 finishers counted. And there’s an introduction evening you say? I’ll like it this time, so those other Striders tell me.
So with this back ground, I set off to Graves Park somewhat apprehensively, to find out if this could be the discipline for me. I arrived to lots of smiley faces and a fairly mild evening with some good light left in the sky. Jen, Rich and Nancy made us all feel very welcome and began the session with a warm up lap of the unique course, designed especially for this evening. We all set off and I thought, ‘This is not too bad’. The course had a long downhill start which then levelled off before climbing sharply towards the woods. It then seemed to level again before a final climb to the finish.
I did it, one whole warm up lap at Striders pace! That was when it dawned on me that the main session was 3 more laps as fast as you can!! As the laps are fairly short, about 1 mile each, even where I was at the back of the field, I didn’t lose sight of a runner, whether they were in front or coming up rapidly behind, so it felt very inclusive, not like a 10k where the field spreads out. It felt much more like a parkrun but off road, which was much kinder to my knees and ankles. The ground was firm as it is early in the season, we ran almost exclusively on grass but I am told there are some races which have sections of trail too. I am assured it gets much muddier and slippery later in the year.
The session finished with a Q&A session where Andy Buck gave us lots of information about upcoming races and events. I was concerned that in league races, my comparatively slow times would affect the Clubs overall standing, but I received lots of encouragement to join in as even the slower runners can displace other teams’ runners and add to the clubs success. In fact the more runners a club has of different levels, the more chance the club has of doing well in the league.
Buoyed by the support and encouragement of the rest of the runners at the session, I will be signing up for the SYCAA races through the winter and hope to see lots of you other lovely Striders there.
Finally, don’t forget we have our very own Cross Country Introduction guide written by Jennifer Rich that is well worth a read.