EHH Winter League 2 – Cross Country 3m
Summers over and for many of the EHH massive that means only one thing, getting muddy, as well as cold n wet but we try to ignore that. Yes its time for the traditional Harriers Cross Country Winter League. I know this might sound like blasphemy to many but if I’m honest I personally prefer road running in the Autumn or Spring when it’s lovely running temps than Cross Country in the cold, but that’s only coz I’m rubbish at it but I’m mostly up for a challenge so I’m giving it a bash again.
The league started 7 weeks previously on Hornsea beach, which is always a fun race … mainly to see who goes unexpectedly swimming first, think it was Gregan this year, and if the last runner can beat the tide coming in. Alongside as how many injuries you get off the barnacles.
I ran faster than I expected that day and did a 1 min 3 sec PB …. it’s a mass start and every one who runs gets 20 points.
Now it’s time for the second race, the “handicapped” Holderness Drain Bank 3 miler. On I think 3 occasions out of the 7 races, we do a staggered start. So the predicted slowest runners go off first and the super speedy go off last. The idea is that we all cross the finish line together holding hands if the “handicapper” has done his job and everyone runs to their forecasted time. Now this never happens coz some people run well, or badly, as well as a few getting a “good” handicap ( Ehem, looks away sheepishly) … Plus would be a nightmare for the time keepers to log the results if that ever happened.
In last years race I was slightly injured and ran poorly. Would have been last but one unfortunate pulled a muscle and had to walk the last mile and I just pipped 2 of the early starters right on the line so was 4th from last. Not good for the ego.
Fast forward to this year and I’m running injury free.. Wonder what my set off time would be? … 12 months ago it was 10.15 and this year my race number said 8.00 ……. Wow, that’s generous I quietly thought to my self … and at the same time shouted Yippie and did a little happy dance. The handicap must have been based on last years run and not Hornsea.
My brain had now switched on to the idea that if I ran well and others ran just ok, I had a great chance of winning.
While chatting to others about their start times I got envious looks as well as lots of abuse explaining what they thought I must have done to get such a favourable handicap …. But I can assure you, Mike and I are “just good friends” lol.
At quarter past 1 ish it was peeing it down and blowing a gale, oh no just like last year I thought but it was just a squall and when the 88 fearless runners were ready to go it was a quite pleasant 6 degrees and calm …. Unlike my insides which were churning with nervous excitement coz I might finally win a cup or some thing.
The route is about a Kilometre down the drain bank, then a right towards the embankment, along there for a while, then round a ploughed field and behind the houses and back the way we started. Think there are 2 gates which normally are unlocked for the occasion but the first one wasn’t so it was decided to change the start and finish a touch this year.
2 pm came n went, no sign of Mary so the first runners, Sheila Maddison and Laura Gunstead, were off at 2.01.30, then a steady stream all the way to 2.18pm when last starter Alec set off. I was at 2.08pm
I lined up just before my start time. Kadi looked across smiling and said “see you at the finish”. A few others said stuff not quite as nice …. Go … I decided to set off fast and try to catch the early starters before it got too narrow to pass, first problem, go thru the swing “kissing gate” or hurdle the locked barrier? Well I was in no mood for love so thought about attempting to “Steeple Chase hurdle” the barrier …. No best not, would be too embarrassing to go “arse over tit” if I got it wrong, so with my long legs I sort of straddled it and set off again. By the time the drain bank had narrowed I was overtaking the earlier starters and at one Kilo in where Anthea was doing her marshalling (community payback), I was starting to regret my eager pace, I had set off far too fast n was starting to blow out my bum.
Embankment hill, oh there’s Mary, she’s marshalling. Overtakes where getting harder now, not easier as I expected. Into the muddy field and I could see the earlier starters not that far in front, I can do this I said to my self, but only half believing it.
Suddenly “Young Chloe” went passed me …. Eeeek I had over took her ages back, I sped up a touch and I thought she will help increase my pace, but after a minute I started to blow again and she started to pull away slowly.
Just past half we go behind the houses, and the one’s in front all seemed to be in view and looked to be doing the conga as they avoided the worst of the puddles and mud but at a catchable distance. Back onto the embankment to re-trace the route and the fastest runners were coming the other way, all looking super strong and very quick. Surely I’ve got enough of a lead to finish before them ? Just got to catch Chloe and the 5 or so in front of her to get the win.
On to the drain bank, after failing to look good for Dave’s photos, seems like just Paul Backen, Sheila and Chloe are in front of me. …. 500m to go, I can see the finish crowd, heart feeling like its gunna explode, legs wobbling, Sheila and Paul are coming back, but Chloe is still pulling away !
Deffo got 3rd, maybe 2nd my head was saying. Finally overtake Sheila with 200m to go, Damm looks like Paul B is gunna win it and Chloe in 2nd, so I ease off a notch. 3rd will have to do…
50m to go and I hear some large feet behind me, Stu Buchanan is speeding past, he’s caught up the 3 minutes head start I had on him, oh well it’s gunna be 4th, then along side pops David Butt. Eeeek noooo not another one, I speed up for all I’m worth and cross the line … 4th place, 3rd male.
Then I notice Laura Gunstead relaxing against the hurdle gate, looking fresh but muddy. Errrrr where did she come from ?
Turns out she had lead from start to finish n had been in for well over 2 mins. I never even saw her the whole race … so I was 5th. But only just, Richard Alsop unknown to me had been closing fast and would probably have got me if it was 20m further.
I ran about the time I had expected beforehand and maybe 30 secs slower than my best hope, I blame the rush of blood and far too fast a start… 24.13 plus the 8 mins was 32.13. I was a bit over 2 and half mins faster than last year’s injured run and with the 2 mins 15 head start, I was nearly 5 mins faster than previously …. Job done.
Fantastic running by Paul B, “Young Chloe” ( 7th fastest lady run time ) and Stu B, all knocking minutes off their times from last year. I’d mention the winner Laura G but she was in a different race to the rest of us, she must have had a great but lonely run to hold off the whole pack.
So with the 20 points from Hornsea and the 28 for 3rd male, I’m now leading the points league, so that’s an unexpected bonus … Don t worry I’ll be back to my normal mid place soon enough and will be able to moan at the handicapper again like everyone else does, coz it’s the EHH law.
Top 12 Finish Times
- Laura Gunstead 29.39 1st Female Handicap
- Paul Backen 31.21 1st Male Handicap
- Chloe Wilson 31.42 Guest
- Stuart Buchanan 32.08 2nd Male Handicap
- Paul Reed 32.13 3rd Male Handicap
- David Butt 32.14 4th Male Handicap
- Richard Alsop 32.19 5th Male Handicap
- David Rimmer 32.30 6th Male Handicap
- Matt Pinder 32.34 7th Male Handicap
- Sheila Maddison 32.36 2nd Female Handicap
- Kris Hopkins 32.50 8th Male Handicap
- Ann Allen 32.50 3rd Female Handicap
Top 6 Run Times
- Mike Hargreaves 16.56
- Ritchie Buckle 17.05
- Alec Gibson 17.10
- Stuart Carmichael 17.26
- Matty Hayes 17.50
- Nigel Sissons 18.12
39 Paul Reed 24.13