I have suddenly got the urge to start blogging regularly. A lot has happened since my last update at the end of the track season (almost 6 months ago!!!) but I will try to summarise (hopefully in not to many words- although I may do it in two blogs) the most important bits!
This season has once again been a real rollercoaster – seems to be a common theme in my running career! My main focus pre Christmas was to make the European cross country team in Hungary in early December. The trials were late November and all my training was focused towards making the team of 6.
A few low key races got my season off to a decent start. Firstly the Aldershot relays, the traditional season opener for my club, where for the first time I competed in the senior team. In the second leg of 6 I was just searching for a good run more and to enjoy myself and I came through the field well to run the 3rd fastest time of that leg.
Next up was the southern Cross country relays at Wormwood Scrubs where the team of Jonny Roberts, Jack Williams and myself managed to secure team gold. This was the first team medal that Reading AC had got in an event like this for a long time and with our B team securing bronze, it was a good day! From here, I then moved onto my first Hampshire league of the season in good spirits and was competing, for the first time, in the long 10km course of the seniors. U20 is an awkward age category in this regards, as all of the league races are sizeably longer than the championship races (most are around 7-8km). This makes it not only hard to gauge your own form, but also that of your rivals. I finished this race in third and while not delighted it was a solid first race over this kind of distance.
On the 28th October (my birthday, incidentally ;)) I had my first real test of the season; the 1st leg of the McCain Series Cross Challenge in Bristol. This was my first individual individual cross country of the season – actually it was the first one ever – and I really wanted a good performance before heading into the European Trials in a months time. The Bristol course is really gruelling; hilly, normally muddy, and a true cross country test. Despite this I went into the race confidently and bar the usual pre race jitters was happy with my preparation. The race itself was incredibly tough and there was a large group of around 6 still together with a third of the race to go. At this point I was stinging like a dog (< saw that phrase in someone else’s blog! aha) and when Jack Gray (the eventual winner) made a move I couldn’t go with it. Up the final hill I did manage a final surge to move away from the rest of the field and I gratefully finished the race in second position. In all honesty I was not completely satisfied with the performance but I wasn’t exactly disappointed either. It was a solid foundation to take into the rest of the season.
I was lucky enough to be selected to run for England in Spain on the 11th of November. Before this however, I had the national cross country relays at Mansfield. After winning the southerns, we knew we had an outside chance of a medal. Unfortunately, on the day we could only manage an 8th place finish and I myself had quite a poor run. I really struggled to get going on the 3km course and only managed the 5th fastest time on that leg. The gaps when I took over were quite large however so I was not overly disappointed.
Running abroad for England is always a great experience. From the friends you make to the different racing culture they’re weekends that you really remember. Travelling up on the Friday and racing on the gives you the Saturday to relax, see the local sites and also prepare for the race. The location for this event was Burgos, Northern Spain and the event was the “Cross de Atapuerca”. Being part of the European Circuit the senior men’s race attracts some of the top Africans and while the Junior race is not as strong it still attracts some of the best runners from across Europe. With this in mind I was fairly pleased with my 4th place finish. I had a nagging feeling at the end however that I could have snatched bronze and possibly even a silver, as we finished in quick succession. I was however happy to be the first English runner home. The winner, a Bulgarian had a great race and won it by some way pulling out a 30 second lead in the last 2km of the race! In fairness he was much larger than me and when looking at his age a year older. It was a little concerning to be honest to be beaten so soundly by someone that I would hopefully be racing in the European in under a months time! There was definetly work to be done!
With my next race the trial and me having already written an essay, I’m going to leave this blog here until next time! A cliffhanger aha… Also probably going to be more than two blogs now!
Anyway, thanks for reading!