Sunday….The sky was clear and blue. The sun was out and its was a tad on the chilly side. It was, in short, a beautiful – almost perfect, late autumn day. There couldn’t have been a better start to the Borders XC series.
The first race this year was in Lauder. Same route and start location as previous years, but Lauder now have the use of a shiny new club house. Cross country? With changing and showering facilities about 20m from the start line?? Flippin’ Eck.
It was a real pity that some of the runners disregarded the simple request to remove muddy shoes before entering the new club house. Shame on you.
Anyway, what of the race itself. Well it was a record turnout for the first leg with about 215 seniors and about 80 juniors.
A quick recce of the part of the route showed that mud was to be the recurring theme of the day – lots of it.
Same route as before. A lap of the football park before heading out to do a lap of a wooded walk that includes some old WW I style duckboard paths (luckily covered in chicken wire – so not a real slip hazard). Quite narrow at this part, so if the runner in front is going a bit slower than you’d like just accept it and enjoy the opportunity to save your energy.
Then its over a bridge and the long, slow, lung bustin’ climb up by Chester Hill on the Southern Upland Way, then down into the valley and a nice muddy/boggy section that probably claimed a few badly tied shoes yesterday. An awful climb, up a very steep, slippery, muddy path, before a rapid descent back into the football park. A descent that took in a short cobbled section that I don’t recall being as slippy as it was yesterday.
Me and James Addie had our own race-within-a-race going on yesterday and kept passing each other regularly. Thought I’d nailed it when he had to stop briefly to sort his shoe, but he caught me just as we came back into the park L.
Pace and time are pretty meaningless on a XC race, but I was happy enough with the way I felt during and after.
Shoes: Got a good tip from Ian R’ that I’ve tried. Put my Inov8 XC shoes outside to get wet before the day of the race. Then when you put them on [slightly] damp you can not only get them nice and tight, but they feel a bit softer and more comfortable. Sounds a bit strange, choosing to put on wet shoes – but it does work.