Cassiobury Park was unfamiliar to many but provided an attractive, fast and mostly very firm course, with the initial stretch on rough grass down a long stunning avenue before a short stretch on tarmac over river and canal bridges, before a further long stretch on hard gravel path. The course then turned into a loop of hilly woodland, which was cleverly arranged to be seemingly all up hill, like the Escher print of the monks climbing an endless staircase. The M40/50 race took two laps of this before returning the way they came, making a total of about 9km whilst the ladies and M60’s did just one for a shorter 7km.
In the M40 race Andrew Mitchell led from the off, and ran a fast relaxed pace to finish with a well-deserved gold. Christian Nielsen came in 3 minutes later in 10th in a close pack, followed by David Ford, just a week off his 50th Birthday and rounding off his first season in Cross Country in 27th, with Tony Smith the sole V50 team member making a welcome appearance at 39th. With 3 to qualify, the team finished with gold comfortably ahead of Serpentine and Ealing Eagles.
In the ladies race, combined with the M60 men, national triathlete and former ace cross country runner Kate Nunn led the team to finish first V35, followed by Ironman (lady?) Jess Bass 50 seconds later in Bronze. Christine Munden made up the V35 team in 21st place, to make it a double with the men for the second Gold team set for the Valley. Sole V45+ Barbara Maddison ran a steady race to finish 17th. Unlike last year where she was pipped on the final corner, she was comfortably ahead of Simon by a couple of minutes, who finished 11th in the V60 men.
Congratulations to all the team for an excellent and deservedly rewarded effort!! This is a very friendly event, and well worth the turnout, please bear in mind for next year, there are good opportunities for teams at all age groups!
Well that about wraps it up for the season, thanks as ever to Barrie for his support, and wishing you all the best for the summer, and look forward to the next Cross Country season!!
1 Andrew Mitchell 35:04; 10 Christian Nielsen 38:19; 27 David Ford 44:21; 39 Tony Smith 54:01 – 41 finishers
M40 Gold: Andrew Mitchell, Christian Nielsen, David Ford
2 Kate Nunn 31:20; 5 Jess Bass 32:11; 17 Barbara Maddison 39:35; 21 Christine Munden 44:33 – 21 finishers
W35 Gold: Kate Nunn, Jess Bass, Christine Munden
11 Simon Maddison 41:37 – 12 finishers