Gavin's blog: English National XC Championships 2018 News

Posted in News by Richard

The adventure started with the choo choo from Newcastle on Friday night. My usual planned alcohol free pre-race Friday night was broken within minutes when I succumbed to immense peer pressure from Jason Long. We were sat in first class and took full advantage of free drinks and, after persuading Jason to let go of the drinks trolley so that staff could serve other customers, Jason and I bonded over drinks and food. The other LFRC reps, Stephen Magrath Clare Magrath Vicki Halse Phil Halse Richard Conder and Danny Wade were elsewhere on the choo choo, consuming some alcohol, a pre-race plan approved by John Stephens, at least I think that is what John meant by his message "F***n clueless" when Clare updated him.

Anyway, several drinks later and an unscheduled stop at Doncaster, we arrived at our house for the weekend and allocated rooms and due to the late withdrawal of Carl Watson, Jason and I had our own room. I am not sure if Jason was disappointed or pleased to see that he would not be sharing with me. The two married couples had their own rooms, as did Vicki and Phil.

As we all waited for Danny to unpack his numerous items of face cream, body wash, lotions, etc., we started to discuss the plans for Saturday and then made our way to a local ale house to discuss the tactics for the race - start, run fast, finish. Some of the party had decided to do a parkrun as a bit of a prep and the following day LFRC was well represented at the Hackney Marshes parkrun and Richie, Jason and Unknown recorded their best ever time for a Parkrun, well done.

Race time and we made our way to the course by tube with Danny the sniper carrying the Low Fell banner and we were joined by John, Alan Elders and Neil Kavanagh who had travelled down on the morning - Neil was looking forward to running but appeared to be distracted by some rugby match. Apparently we had a two man tent which was used by, amongst others, Vicki and Clare - two women!

The girls ran first with great efforts by both and with smiles on their faces as they finished. Next it was the turn of the men and, as we readied ourselves at the start line and waited for Richie to come back from his 18th toilet visit, we focused on the task ahead. Off we went, over 2000 men, up that bloody hill to compete over 7 miles of grass, mud, water, etc. My race plan went well and I kept up with the flying Stephen for at least 20 yards - the guy is a machine. I settled into my stride and made my way at a ferocious pace, picking off runners, gliding over the mud - hang on that was my alcohol induced dream the night before and reality was somewhat different but I did run better in the mud due to running in spikes for the first time. Richie passed me around a mile from the finish and I tried to stay with him but he was too strong for me and I had to settle for third LFRC runner home. All LFRC runners ran superb races, Jason coming out of retirement, Danny still feeling poorly but special mention to Alan for his immense effort and getting round the course and ensuring that we had a nine man team.

As the men ran last, Vicki and Clare had made full use of the en-suite tent to get changed (drink wine) and then offered their usual vocal support - it really helps to hear your named being called out wherever on the course. Clare and Vicki waited for Alan to finish as I and a few others got changed outside the tent, I wonder what the inside of the tent looked like. I think the cold had got to Clare as she attacked Alan with his own spikes but I think Alan is not pressing charges. Once again great running by all.

Alan, Neil and John made their way back to Kings Cross whilst we all made our way back to The Bronx to get ready for a Brazilian...............................type meal and some well earned drinks. After some refuelling and some pretty darn good food we made our way to a pub for several more well deserved drinks. Last orders came, the doorman encouraged us to drink up and we went to make our way home and ended up in another ale house where the doorman there asked some of us for ID, I say some of us - the dodgy looking ones of the party were asked not I nor Phil who simply gave the gentleman on the door his age. At some point the alcohol seem to impact on my memory, (the 10 Czech beer weren't that strong) and I can't recall too much but we did get we home eventually.

I did find out the following morning that Richie and Danny did partake in some JDs and there was something about one of the pillows on my bed. Sunday saw Jason, Richie, Danny and I head to Kings Cross whilst Clare, Vicki, Stephen and Phil were going to have the day in London. Clare was up early to see if we were okay and NOT to make sure Danny the sniper took the banner.

The four of us slummed it in standard class and all of us, bar Jason who legend has it only requires 3 hours sleep, rested our eyes. Long train journeys can be boring but luckily enough Richie had brought a pack of cards which he took out his bag at Durham. Special thanks to Richie for his financial support - I had a great weekend and hope everyone else did. If anyone is still reading this when the Nationals come round, sign up and give it a go - you will have a fantastic time!

Published: Tuesday 13th March 2018