Race Date: Saturday 7th January 2023 (8km for women, 10km for men)
It was all aboard the party bus for a Striders’ road trip to Lightwater Valley for the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships on Saturday. We shared the bus with runners from Hillsborough and Rivelin Running Club and Totley AC, so there was a strong Sheffield contingent heading North.
Lightwater Valley is a small theme park near Ripon in North Yorkshire. I hadn’t realised the park would be closed so it felt slightly dystopian to walk through the entrance and see all the attractions closed down for the winter, with only some model dinosaurs to greet you on arrival. It definitely made for a unique setting for a race.
Despite the surroundings, the most prominent feature of the day was MUD. Due to heavy rain in the preceding days and weeks (and on the journey!), the course was absolutely soaked through, with most parts a total mud bath. Staying upright became the primary goal of the day, for me at least.
Each lap of the course starts by wading through a small bog then up a muddy embankment, before heading down and wading through the same bog but from a different angle. We then turned a muddy corner onto a muddy flat straight where staying upright was challenging to say the least, before winding up and down fields with more slip hazards, particularly on the bends. The ‘best’ bit was the steep embankment towards the end of the lap where it was so greasy your feet kept slipping from under you, leading to some rather undignified attempts to make it to the top. Luckily, many of these attempts were captured on camera, thanks to the spectators (naming no names, Malcolm Baggaley) who chose this spot to watch the action. Thanks so much for that. 🙂 The women ran four laps, and those unlucky enough to be men were subjected to five laps.
As with most cross country events that I’ve done, it was brutal, but even more so for being so many laps and so much mud. I personally lost the will to live after three laps and it was a real push to get to the end, and I got slower and slower. However, there was certainly some novelty in the setting, and I did enjoy running past rollercoasters when I briefly dared to stop looking at where I was putting my feet.
This race was also the debut of the shiny new Striders gazebo (probably slightly less shiny now), which is a huge step up from the tatty tent (may it rest in peace). It’s a beast, and is sure to be enjoyed at many XC outings.
A special mention must go to Wei, who ran most of the race in his socks due to losing his shoes in the mud early on! What a hero. A couple of Striders also made their cross country debut at this race and put in brilliant performances. Well done, and welcome to the world of XC!
The Striders did some fabulous running overall, but it would be wrong not to mention the wonderful cheer squad, led by our phenomenal Chair, Helen Smith. Helen, Laura Rangeley and several others did a sterling job of whooping at everyone on every lap, and it definitely helped me to keep going when I’d had enough. You could hear Helen before you could see her, and it helped me gauge where Striders were on the course too! One of the best things about XC is the support from the club – the men cheer on the women, and the women cheer on the men. It’s great, and really makes the whole day so worthwhile. Thank you, cheer squad, you are what makes the Striders so brilliant!
The women’s race was won by Phillipa Williams of Hallamshire Harriers in 31.12. The Striders women’s A team came 5th, B team 12 and C team 16 out of 17 teams. There were 108 runners in total.
The men’s race was won by Angus McMillan of City of York AC in 34.47. The Striders men’s A team came 9th and the B team came 14th out of 14 teams. There were 182 runners in total. Those runners still out on the course after one hour weren’t allowed a time – which seems a bit mean.
Full Results: 2023 yorkshire cross country championships results