SW X-C Champs

Toby at the South West X-Country Championships

On Sunday 8th January I took part in the South West Cross Country Championships taking place in Aldon Park, Yeovil. This competition consists of teams of the best eight runners from each county including Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Avon. The course was a typical cross country course with hills, mud, wind and for once sunshine! The temperature felt a mere 3 degrees as every spectator was wrapped in an uncountable amount of layers.

On Sunday 8th January I took part in the South West Cross Country Championships taking place in Aldon Park, Yeovil. This competition consists of teams of the best eight runners from each county including Cornwall, Somerset, Wiltshire and Avon. The course was a typical cross country course with hills, mud, wind and for once sunshine! The temperature felt a mere 3 degrees as every spectator was wrapped in an uncountable amount of layers.

The Devon Team

My race commenced at 13:55 so after a thorough warm up to get a slight feeling in my toes I was ready to race. The gun goes and it’s a sprint to see who can take the lead of the hungry pack charging behind them. A 500m straight is what we face with a sharp right turn into a fierce headwind. Constant to and fro between race positions kept all on their toes, prepared for an early surge form the leaders at any time. As the mud got thinner and wind reduced, everyone knew what was coming: The hill! The thoughts are ticking ‘do I attack up it?’ ‘do I save energy and cruise, but loose some race places?’ it’s a risk but you’ve got to decide in that split-second. Now onto me. I attacked that hill, surging up it taking 2, 3, 4, 5 places from an average 20th place of a field of 50 moving to a more promising 15th.

The second lap provided pain and a lot of mental strain. It was now turning into a mental test rather than physical. Keep your legs moving, stay with the runner in front of you, and don’t get overtaken. Simple right? I wish. My race tactic changed, I was determined to move up the field to put me in the best position in preparation for the hill. Attacking down steep inclines and gaining momentum I was moving nicely with less pain than before, I had never been this high up in a race as prestigious as this so was out of my comfort zone. Adrenaline kicked in at the right time, fuelling me up the hill taking over three runners. I now knew I was at least 3rd in my team, far better than the expectations I gave myself prior to the event. All I had to do now was secure this place and stay strong, digging deep and keeping technique sound, for the final 200 metres. One competitor rushed by me, sprinting at an unimaginable speed to contrast my race tactics of give all in the race, cruise the end but just hold my place. At this point I had nothing left and was fearing the worst, dreading who else could muster up that final kick to overtake me. Luckily before I knew it I was over the line and was immediately handed a letter with the title ‘London Marathon 2018’.

I am delighted to say I finished 8th in the South West by far my highest achievement, 2nd in the Devon team and am now a reserve for The London Mini Marathon in May 2018, something I could never have imagined even being close to.

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