Last weekend was the English National XC Championships which meant a trip down to a very sunny Parliament Hill in North London. I had actually been to Parliament Hill twice before, however this was for orienteering, but I had heard that the course would be a good one and reasonably hilly. "Perfect!" - I thought.

The course narrowed sharply on the first climb so I knew that it would be important to be up towards the front so that I wouldn't be too boxed in. I also knew that starting fast would help me have a good race as I would make sure I was running with fast runners.

As we set off I the starting gun fired repeatedly as if to signal a false start. I think the starter underestimated the difficulty of trying to stop 1600 runners and so just kept on shooting and yelling "Keep going" into his megaphone. This of course caused some confusion for everybody and I found myself at the front with the feeling that there was nobody close behind me. So I took the opportunity to lead the field up the first hill - not quite realising how far in front I was.

Photo: Paul Street
This was at the bottom of the hill - the distance was about 20m at the top as shown by the next photo.
Photo: Neil Northrop
If only I could have held onto that place. Unfortunately, it took me about 8km to recover from this interval and so I didn't do as well as I possibly could have. All a good learning experience though.

Final position: 138

Watch the race here