Friday, 4 March 2016

national xc at Falkirk

The Nationals. Hmmm. Its a majorly bigtime outing but I am not sure how much I like this event. A lot of travel and arriving and standing about, then a very harsh 50mins running, then limp home. A bit too many similarities to the C5. Also a massive field and after the juniors and women have churned it up always fairly muddy. I didn't attend last year and probably best not to go every year. There were some changes to the course this year but not enough to inspire wonder, delight or hey-this-is-fun. In fact by the third lap I was ready to stop after 2. Does that make me a girl? Probably.

Big thanks to Alex who drove us there in his silver Porty wagon. There were 6 of us and so lots of banter. We arrived in time to pick up numbers and see the women race. The spectacular Porty tent was already up. It provided rain cover for the bags although I took a bin liner which did the same and is easier to collapse afterwards.

the troops meet at base camp

Surprisingly the grounds were not waterlogged. There was plenty mud but it was of the dry variety. I took the camera and got some shots of the women starting. I then went over to the hill ahead of the first runners arriving there and caught the runners on lap one before heading back to get changed. It wasn't very warm but defo a vest only day.

Star of the show was Beth Potter who less than half way round lap 1 (of 2) had established a winning margin.

attacking the hill

second and third had to settle for that. 

Charlotte (getting papped by Allan) had a strong race.

Edel (first v40) moved through the pack to sixth

Steph in a Gala vest

smiling! (so far)

number 1

Musselburgh's finest!

I got changed and while the women completed their second lap did some strides and hill intervals. I had chosen to wear my hill shoes rather than spikes. The track round the back of the loch is hard pack and gravelly and I thought the Fellcross would give me more support and protection over this. They would have plenty of grip for the muddy bits and so I chose them over my spikes. When I saw how much mud they held onto afterwards I slightly regretted this as I might have been quicker in the lighter spikes. However when I spoke to Fergus a few days later he was thinking he might have been better off not wearing spikes. At least my legs and feet were less trashed after 50 mins hard going. (In 2012 the Nationals marked the start of 6 weeks off/recovery with PF foot, no doubt brought on by running over frozen ground in thin shoes.)

I went over to the start line 4 minutes before kick off and chatted to Gerry, an ex-Porty. I looked to see what shoes he was wearing and saw the timing chip zip-locked on his laces. I had forgotten to put mine on so excused myself pronto and raced back to the tent where I tipped out my bag in a frantic search to find the chip. I quickly tied it into my laces and dashed back to the line with 30 seconds to go but the adrenaline was such that I lost any chance of taking it easy over the first lap. While I wasn't way out front I was still probably too far forward and paid for this later.

First lap 16 minutes I think. Second 17ish. I was now just trying to hang on, and noting with interest the quality of runners going past. Rab from Musselburgh. I swapped places with Fergus who should have been well ahead. I was also keeping an eye out for Jake who had been level in lap one and dropped off during lap 2. I brazenly looked over my shoulder going round lap 3 but could see no sign of him and thought being a hundred yards ahead was probably safe. Not so and on the final climb he came past. Bugger! I overtook him back on the descent to the driveway and set off down that as fast as possible but it is a long way and towards the end Jake went by and there was nothing I could do. "Bastard" I shouted at him for making us both sprint like men possessed, as we removed our chips and threw them in the buckets.

Martin F was a minute ahead of us both and I thought might be first v50 but he was fourth. He was sitting in a chair at the line looking like he might need medical attention. While I was raddled I hadn't taken it that seriously! And now with Jake going past he had removed any reason for me being there. ie missing out on 10 club champs points.

Making the nationals a counter for the club champs may well have encouraged folk along. It was good to see we had both a female and male team. Pity some of our stronger runners hadn't been there to hike us up the team results. I was glad to be finished but it wasn't my favourite race of the year by quite some distance. Thanks to all the organisers and helpers. Pity the PRC women who stayed around to cheer haven't discovered how to take photos, although that can be a blessing. 

Beth romped down the finishing straight with nobody behind in sight.

Fionnuala was a massive 50secs behind

Rosie and Freya in third and fouth.

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