Senior XC – Race 1 Report
Report compiled by Tony Jackson
The first fixture of the XC season is always a much-welcomed event – especially this year after what seems like forever because of last year’s competition being cancelled.
The first venue involved a long trek to Betley, Stoke where the all the divisions of the Mens and Ladies leagues competed making for an excellent atmosphere and very competitive racing involving some of the top athletes in the Midlands.
The only downside was that it was very hard to get any idea of your position relative to your own league competitors and it is only later when the Divisional results are produced that relative performances become clear.
The recent weather meant that the conditions underfoot were not too muddy and Emma Bexson’s scouting lap accurately informed everybody that there was long grass everywhere, lots of cow poo and an undulating course where it was important to carry the downhill speed around the cambered bends and back up the impending next hill.
In the ladies fixture the club were well represented with 12 members competing and they set out for 2 laps of the course (total 6.3km / 4mi) in a field of 340 runners.
First home for Stratford was a returning face, Justine Lynch (41st 26:17), putting on a Stratford vest for the first time since her junior days. After the initial shock of how quick the young guns sprint off from the line, Justine settled into a strong pace and finished in an incredible 51st place.
The 2nd Stratford lady was a familiar face to the XC team in Emma Bexson (61st 27:38) who in classic fashion set off at her pace and didn’t budge from it all the way round.
Vicky Sharpe (81st 28:51) and Hannah Osbourne (82nd 28:52) completed the A team as they pushed each other round the course for a close finish.
Jess Sheppard (84th 28:58) making her senior XC debut led home the B team. Unfortunately, Jess suffered a stitch on the second lap but still found the energy to finish strong.
Next was Amy Rowe (124th 32:03), Julia Brookes (131st 32:56) and Susan Hunt (138th 33:27) completed the B team.
Sarah Dichard (141st 33:40) and Philippa Paddock (142nd 33:44) were a mix of returning and first time XC runners. It was brilliant to see how close all these ladies finished and they will be able to push each other in the future.
Emily Adams (154th 36:20) had a strong finish on the final hill (even after morning triathlon club swimming!) as it was her turn to be cheered on loudly from the side lines.
Another returning face to the XC scene was Sue Mothersaw (160th 38:28) who thought she had finished with this madness 30 years ago but has already confirmed her intent for the next race in the season!
The A Team finished 11th (265 pts) and the B Team 10th (477 pts)
Amy Rowe described her first XC experience as potentially incredibly daunting – gathering in a field in the middle of nowhere and talking about ‘spikes’, but the group was so welcoming that she didn’t feel overwhelmed. She was pleased to come somewhere in the middle in the end, with a finish time of 32.03 All in all a brill day out – thanks for the experience team SUA!
Post race was filled with the compulsory cake, tea and an optional fruit salad.
Many of the women stayed to cheer on the men’s team afterwards making for an excellent day out!
The men’s team had 13 runners competing over 3 laps of the course
First back for Stratford was Matt Burdus-Cook, (16th 34 mins 10 secs) Despite feeling pretty fatigued on the way around he led the Stratford team home and can be well pleased with his race.
Second home was Drew Sambridge. (87th 38.21) and he was followed by three runners who were always close to each other during the race. Adam Linforth (99th 38.54), Ben Jordan (101st 39.04) were both making their XC debuts and they were encouraged by the reassuring presence of veteran Wayne Vickers (106th 39.23)
Last home for the A team was Richard Dobedoe (117th 40.05) followed closely by first runner for the B team David Smyth (120th 40.19). David, as usual, probably started a bit too fast but settled into a rhythm quite quickly. Although Richard pulled away half way through lap 1, keeping to a decent and relatively constant pace paid dividends and David was able to reel him back in towards the end finishing only just behind.
John Raby (140th 41.55) was followed by Peter Sugden (141st 42.03) and then another newbie Nick Cooper (151st 43.54) closely followed by stalwart Mike Shephard (162nd 44.46) with Paul Longford (165th45.12) completing the B team.
David Wolstencroft (190th 54.25) brought Stratford home with a strong finish and said afterwards ‘It was really great to savour the buzz and pre and post atmosphere of Cross Country after a long absence, especially having all the ladies and mens divisions together in one place’. There is nothing quite like it!
Despite the best efforts of those who ran the absence of a couple of key runners meant the A team finished a disappointing 14th on the day (526pts)
The B team finished in a solid 7th (879 pts)
Everybody there commented on the excellent camaraderie and support – shouting well needed encouragement at various points around the course.
For the full results please follow the link below:
The next race is at Stratford on 4th December when the Mens and Ladies teams will again be competing together.
We are hoping for an excellent turn out but if you are unable to run, your support on the day would be much appreciated and as the host club marshals and helpers are always needed.