Thank you to Rachel for this brilliant run report from Sunday.
It was Swindon this weekend, that most urban of XC venues. Indeed the only one that begins with a stroll around the ring road, and has lampposts marking the club tents.
Now here’s a thing: according the brown signs as you enter, Swindon is home to great houses, great country parks and museums. It is also home to the official archive of the UK government, and some excellent waterslides. But nowhere does anything tell you about the mud. Oh the mud. So much of it, and so many different types – the watery mud, the sticky mud, the grassy mud, the lumps of mud, the flying mud, the smooth mud, the pure liquid mud that oozed from under the wellies, even in the tent.
It’s a brisk walk up a (muddy) hill to the start line, and as we had no U9s in this event it was U11 girls who kicked off the (muddy) proceedings; regulars Georgie and Juliet joined by newcomers Maisie and Mia. Such was the enthusiasm to set off that we had a false start but with a blast of the horn the girls were away and out of sight. For a short while there was little to do but comment on the extent of the mud, but then the girls were back, small figures emerging from the woodland and sliding down the (muddy) hill towards the (muddy) finish. Maisie came in first for Witney with a great run, with Juliet and Georgie as ever together and close behind, Juliet taking second. Mia showed wonderful spirit to complete her first ever cross country and reunite the foursome at the finish line. (As an aside, with only 2 initial syllables between them, shall we call them the GeMs?)
And the U11 boys took to the (muddy) start, a depleted squad this time around but nonetheless determined. By now conditions were deteriorating and the (muddy) tape marking the course was vibrating deafeningly in the wild wind, with rumours of shoes lost along the course in the mud reaching those waiting to take part. Again, flowing out from the woods, down the (muddy) slope they came, negotiating the treacherous slide toward the finish line. Rhys was the first to cross the line for Witney, followed by Embry and Tom, the latter sporting a remarkably wide if muddy smile.
Our U13s have been out in force this season, showing great depth in the squad, and 6 girls were on the (muddy) start line. As the course is longer they came through the (muddy) woods, down the hill for the first time and veered to the left to repeat the (muddy) circuit. Martha was the first Witney girl to re-appear for the second time, tackling the (muddy) downhill section with confidence and looking strong all the way to the finish, with Ellie hot on her heels. Bethany in her trademark pink socks, admittedly not quite as pink as usual, was next over the line and Macy joined her shortly afterwards. The small downhill near the finish was claiming victims at some pace, but Jessica and Skye made it safely back.
During this excitement the U13 boys had taken to the (muddy) start, and not be outdone had fielded a team of 7. It had started to rain and the few remaining patches of (muddy) grass had given way to more mud. Now these boys were spattered before they even began the race, resembling from the back an unlikely species of leopard. The timing of the two U13s races was such that the teams intersected at the bottom of the (muddy) hill, ensuring that Manda had her work cut out cheering the girls and the boys on simultaneously. Glenn! Lewis! Calum! Macy! Charlie! Jessica! Tom! Jacob! Skye! Ryan! By the time the boys had finished and were coming through, the funnel had given up all pretence at solid ground and was ankle deep in liquid mud. It was also raining horizontally. However, this is apparently where the enjoyment lies in this event.
The U15 girls were by now well on their (muddy) way, and as the U13s retreated to the pavement to attempt to remove their (muddy) soggy spikes, laces triple knotted and drenched; they were doing sterling work, in keeping upright on the now extremely slippery mud as much as anything. Strong performances all round showed Anna, Page, Lily and Grace bring a memorable event to a (muddy) close for the juniors, leaving the seniors to arrive and comment on how muddy the course appeared to be…
Let’s be honest, the real winner here was probably Vanish. Other washing powders are available.
Preliminary results are available at the following link.