20 Jan

Cross Country - One Woman's View

The third and final race of the Scottish East District Cross Country League was held on Saturday, January 16. The League which includes races for: girls and boys; juniors; seniors and masters kicked off in October in Stirling, before moving to Dunfermline in November and finally Broxburn this month. 19 year old Sarah Inglis of Lothian RC won the final women’s race, completing the 6k course in an impressive time of 24:11. Fife AC’s Helen Sharpe (29) placed runner up with 24:24, whilst Edinburgh AC’s veteran Jennifer MacLean (36) completed the very icy course in 24:40.

Christine Eadie (V45) of Falkirk Victoria Harriers finished in 55th position, out of a total of 73 finishers, with a time of 32:27. www.scottishrunningguide.com asked Christine to tell us how she got into cross country and to share her experience of the recent Broxburn race with our readers.

Why Cross Country?

Christine said: "It's cold, it's windy, and not for the first (or the last) time, the words, "Why am I doing this?" are playing in my head. I was one of the kids at school that hated cross country with a vengeance and I cannot believe that this is now my second season running it as an adult. It did, however, take me four years of running before I worked up the courage to try it. I've been a runner for 17 years now, although for the first 11 years this was very much of the stop/start nature. Six years ago I decided to try and make more of a commitment and joined the JogScotland group at Grangemouth Stadium. This led to a bit of consistency in my running, and I started to run three to four times a week.

"So, how did I get to cross country? I started off with the big road races: the Women's 10k in Glasgow and the Great Scottish Run. I then took part in smaller races and found a couple of trail races. These have the benefit of taking any pressure off of always chasing those elusive PBs. Each race you do is dependent on the conditions on the day as well as the condition of the path/trail underfoot. I really enjoyed these.

"JogScotland at Grangemouth Stadium works closely with Falkirk Victoria Harriers, with many of the JogLeaders being members of the Harriers. They were always telling me about the cross country but I didn't think I was good enough. In my mind club runners are 'real' runners. However, eventually, I was persuaded to give it a try, and I joined the Harriers - you need to be a member of a running club to run cross country. I was really nervous before my first race, and my goals were: not to finish last; and not to be lapped (the majority of women cross country races are two laps of a course). Nearly everyone looked fitter and faster than I did but I managed to succeed in both goals and enjoy the run in the process.

"The majority of cross country courses are through trails, with only a couple being across fields (if you're in the East League). I particularly like the two-loop format, as once you've been round once, you know exactly what's coming in the second loop and you\'re already over half way there. Cross country is also quite short. Most women’s races are either 4 or 6k, with only the Scottish Championship being longer at 8k, so if you can manage a 5 or 10k then a cross country is definitely manageable. It's good fun to get out in the fresh air, off-road, and the cross country is also more sociable than most road races. All age groups take part and at our club all of us more mature females travel together and either stay and support the other runners, or head for the cafe and some hot soup (or, on a good day, both). I still can't believe that I'm now enjoying what I dreaded all those years ago.

My Broxburn Experience

"After a review of the course in the morning, there was a slight change to the route, removing Lungbuster Hill, however, it has to be said that what replaced it was not a lot better! Conditions underfoot, were a mixture of snow, mud and there were a couple of ankle deep icy puddles. The weather was kind to us and although rain/snow was forecast, it stayed dry and it wasn't as cold as it had been. The course starts off with a short downhill loop, then a sharp turn and back up the hill. The course passes the start and then heads off to the right for a short loop, again with some treacherous turns and a very muddy/slippery slope. Back up and again, within sight of the start, and there is a short sharp dip, wherein lurked an unavoidable ice-filled puddle. There is then a big loop that is undulating before another short sharp dip, with very slippery conditions and another icy puddle, before you're back to the start for the second circuit.

"This was a bit of a struggle for me, and particularly after the down/up loop just after the start, the legs felt very heavy and it was difficult not being able to get a sure grip with the feet. My only complaint about the course was that it was littered with lots of dog poo. It's difficult enough running in the slippery/muddy/icy conditions without having to watch where you're putting your feet. The showers were hot, and the food in the canteen was wonderful: soup and a really nice looking selection of hot food, just what you need when you're cold, tired and hungry."

Full Results of all the races are available here: