Druridge Bay XC Race Report

Still nursing our sore limbs from Wrekenton a mere 8 days earlier, many of us found ourselves at the Cross Country start line once again, this time ready to tackle the course at Druridge Bay. For some it was the first Cross Country outing with us – Welcome Paul, Amelia, Aaron, Lynne, Grace Leiper, Grace Graham and Ella (apologies if I’ve missed anyone)!

Arriving at Druridge Bay Country Park, the sun was shining and the venue looked like a beautiful spot for a run, albeit still lacking the true cross country terrain of knee deep mud that we’re all anxiously awaiting. Driving past the lake to the car park you could see some of the youngsters chasing each other around the course and much to my delight there was a large section of the route heading in my favourite direction – downhill!

Having had some sort of miraculously good run last week, I was going to be setting off for the first time from the medium pack. I’d also been told many times that I was a dafty for doing this to myself, so I was understandably quite nervous. My nerves escalated a little when the kids who had ran the course already imparted their wisdom on us all and advised against wearing spikes due to the large sections of gravel en route. With little grip left on my well-worn trainers to tackle the remaining grassy areas, I felt I had no choice but to go against the important advice I’d received and stuck the trusty spikes on anyway.

The shoes proved helpful over the first section of the course, which was a gradual grassy climb, but for the large sections of gravel track I was left feeling like I was trying to navigate my way through a room of spilt marbles. Luckily, the rest of the club sensibly listened to the younger generation’s advice and I’m sure that many of them had great runs as a result!

The course itself was undulating and challenging, something I didn’t prepare myself for when I set off far too fast in a badly judged bid not to be left behind by the rest of the medium pack. Quickly running out of steam, I knew I’d approached the course all wrong with a (just) sub 7 minute first mile. The trouble then worsened when I realised that the lovely downhill stretch I had spotted earlier didn’t feature on the grown ups’ course. And so I was left with no choice but to cling on for the remaining three miles whilst screaming in my head, “JUST KEEP GOING, THERE’S CAKE AT THE END.”

And boy did the cake make it all better! Thanks to all the bakers for the mouth-watering treats – I think the boys should bake more often! I must also give a special shout out to John McGargill who took up baking for the very first time this week and delivered us a delicious peanut butter and chocolate cake.

All in all we saw fantastic running from everyone. Despite a couple of falls on hidden potholes, there were brilliant sprint finishes all round on the last uphill stretch. It’s also great to see our hard efforts giving our team good results with the Men’s team managing fourth position in the division and the ladies hitting second place.

P.S. It’s also pretty cool to now be able to say I’ve raced an Olympian!