Well this was certainly different to my last few races I've competed in... namely that it was the shortest off road race I've ever done! I was representing my running club Leighton Buzzard Athletics Club in this 9km Chiltern League cross country race alongside 15 or so other LBAC runners.
The course was a 3km loop which you did 3 times to make up the 9km distance. The only plan in my mind was to run my own race and not get to carried away at the start and run way faster than I could sustain (i've learnt well from my coach the 'Mad Dog'). After a 15 minute delay to the mens race we were off. As expected the front pack stormed off with me fighting for space behind, as elbows flew around to get position. I quickly settled as I watched the leading pack disappear through the trees (probably running about 5:30 min/mile pace) something I'm definitely not capable of over such a distance. 6:30 m/m was my target average pace for this race and I was going to do everything I could to sustain it to the finish line, and perhaps even duck under 35 minutes. Of course nothing was certain.
In the first lap after the pack had settled I was passed by a few runners but nothing that worried me too much. I told myself that I would be seeing them again if I could stick to the plan and keep something back for later when others would undoubtedly tire. And so it was that the miles flew by, and I stuck to my race plan, as the miles ticked my... My splits for the first 5 miles were 6:30, 6:27, 6:31, 6:24, 6:31. Mad Dog would be proud of that! In the second lap I started to pass other runners as I had predicted. This always feels good and gives you the motivation to keeping going and pick off the next person. The last lap was going to be tough as I hung onto my avg 6:30 pace, and continued to pick off other runners one by one. My breathing was hard and fast but I controlled it and kept in rhythm and my stride long so as not to slow down.
And soon enough I was nearing the finish line and gave it one last push in the final 400m to past a few more ahead of me and surge across the line. Looking down at my watch amazingly I managed to finish 3 seconds within my 35minute target time! My average pace was 6:26, over a distance of 5.44m. I was well happy with that!
I've just checked the Chiltern League website and the results are also in! Cross Country running is not so much about the individual, as it is about representing your running club and doing your very best for the team. And Leighton Buzzard Athletics Club came 1st in our Division!!! what a result!! well done LBAC!
My individual finising position was 31st pace out of 115 in Division 2 category, and 137th place out of 317 finishers overall. Not bad for a long distance runner ;-)
FULL RESULTS HERE.