The rain certainly added to the challenge of the Midlands Cross Country Championships on Saturday. Held at Wollaton Park in Nottingham, hosts Notts AC put on a challenging course which made the most of the hill on which the picturesque hall sits, curving the course up and down the steep grassy banks a number of times. The hills and the rain were perhaps expected, however the runners also had to deal with logs to hurdle as well as a boggy section that sucked the energy out of even the most hardcore of cross country runners. The ladies ran first, an 8k course which saw a medium lap followed by two large laps. Leamington C&AC had 7 ladies on the start line, all in the infamous red shorts which have made more of a comeback to the athletics’ club kit over the past few years. Kelly Edwards ran a solid race, finishing 13th overall in a time of 32:52. Team-mates Jenny Jeeves (35:47), Zara Blower (37:23) and Elaine Sherwin (37:46) packed nicely in positions 42, 60 and 65 to bring the ladies team into 8th overall. Other ladies running were Laura Gould (45:35, 180th); Carol Blower (46:57, 192nd) and May Donaldson (47:55, 199) out of a field of 250.
The men faced 4 large laps which meant at least 12 hill climbs, 8 log hurdles and 4 energy sapping bog sections. Having watched and supported the women there were a few nervous faces on the start line. Phil Gould, continuing on his “come back” to the top of cross country racing was first home for the club in 37th place and a time of 45:29. Gould was pushed round the course knowing that local competitors were hot in his heels, an early push using a downhill section before the last boggy part saw Gould surge past a number of runners before a sprint finish and despite the tough 12k course, saw him keep off his challengers. Jason Hill was the next club member back in position 143 (51:45), followed by Marc Curtis (53:16, 183rd); Craig Bower (54:03, 198th), Simon Perkins (54:08, 200th) and Garrath Schule (55:59, 239th) to make the scoring team of 6. Paolo Foglini finished in 291st position in a time of 58:24 with Andrew Higgins just tipping over the hour in 60:02 and 329th. Steve Roberts was not far behind in 62:30 (369th). Roger Fagge also ran and seemed to be in high spirits with two laps to go on the tough course, Fagge finished 445th in a time of 69:16.