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
After the warmest Christmas I can remember winter has finally come to Britain. It is not at the same level (yet) as last year so no epic runs from Sheffield but we have still been able to have some fun.

In the middle of January the club on behalf of BUOT organised the End of Winter Weekend. This aimed to bring student orienteers from across Britain together for a weekend of good training and plenty of fun. It well and truly lived up to the expectations with the highlight being a brilliant 2 hour epic run on Kinder Scout.
Photo: Dave Schorah
Next on the plan was the British University Cross Country Championships held in Cardiff. The word on the coach down was the Cardiff does not get much snow normally because of its coastal location - the word was wrong.

The advance members of the athletics club found the course to be frozen solid so I fell into the classic cross country issue of worrying about what spikes I would need. Eventually I settled on 9mm, which in my typical organised fashion, I got somebody else to sort out so I had time to warm up.
Photo: Ollie Cook
I finished in 22nd place, covering the 10km in 31.42, which I am really pleased with. I am running well at the moment so I would like to build on this over the next couple of months in preparation for the domestic season. I am also looking forward to the English National Cross Country Championships and testing my running again.

You can read more about the race on my Attackpoint.
You can watch coverage of the races on Athleticos. (Javascript needed)
You can read the university's report on the race on Forge Press.