Report from Sean O’Halloran: Over the summer I decided to commit fully to the winter cross country season in an attempt to build up my strength and stamina and put myself in a strong position for 2016. I signed up to do the West Yorkshire XC with Otley, however the other major winter XC series is the PECO League which is unfortunately not supported by the club. I could have run the PECO races as a guest but I took this opportunity to second claim Kirkstall Harriers and became one of their 85 member team (pre-registration).
The first race in this year’s series was entirely within the grounds of Temple Newsam Country Park. It was a multi-terrain undulating course, with a mixture of trail, grassy sections and woodland paths. There were some steep ascents and descents with some fast flat sections thrown in for good measure. This was more like a trail race than a XC race and not dissimilar to running round Danefied and the Chevin. It was nice to see another Otley face on the start line, Pange (Angela Srivastava) had decided to run the race as a guest runner.
First off were the junior races, Otley was represented by Aston Brogden in the junior one mile race finishing 26th (19th in category) in 08:56. In the two mile race Jenson Brogden finished 17th (10th in category) in 13:14, Holly Davey finishing 36th (9th in category) in 14:34 and Kieran Green finishing 52nd (27th in category) in 16:58.
For the senior races both the men and ladies had the same 4.6 mile course. The men’s race started at 1100 and this was followed by the ladies start 10 minutes later, my target was complete the race without being caught by the ladies, If I was to be caught (unlikely not to be) try and limit the number passing (only 30 did). With the recent West Yorkshire XC races and a good training schedule at present I felt good and strong on the start line. I took up my usual starting position at the back with some familiar faces from other clubs.
The race got underway and to my surprise I started to pass people within the first mile, I did have a word with myself about not over doing it and going off too fast but I felt good. The miles past and I remained strong, especially on the hills, and gained the odd position where possible as people tired (The Tuesday hill sessions are paying off). The final section was back around bottom lawn and up an incline towards the house, this was very heavy going and a real sting in the tail. With tired legs I gave it one last push as I tried to catch the two blokes in front, but must have heard me coming and the gap remained the same. I crossed the finish line with burning legs and lungs and I knew I had given my all and was satisfied I had run as hard as I could on the day. Following the race there was soup and a roll for all competitors (part of the entry fee).
The winner was Tom Adams (Ilkley Harriers) in 0:25:12. The ladies winner was Bethany Gatland (Leeds University CCC) in 0:30:35.
Full results can be found here http://www.pecoxc.co.uk/pages/race1.html