So, my first race with St Andrews Cross Country was a wee 5K in Giffordtown, Fife, about half an hour from St Andrews. Well, a little longer for our car as we missed the final turning when I was chatting about last weeks marathon instead of map reading. Fourteen keen XC’ers made the trip, leaving St Andrews around half nine.
Before the 11 o’clock start Roger and Rhiannon led some good warm-ups to get the team ready – I think some of us warmed up for longer than the race itself took! After attending a Thursday session for the first time this week I kind of knew what I was doing. Still, as I’m so uncoordinated I still feel silly ‘banana-ing’, although it (allegedly) works. Personally I was looking to break my previous 5K PB of 21:11, but also aware that the marathon may have a) taken more out of me than I had yet realised and b) had really left my feet in a horrendous state
The start was reasonably congested – around 100 runners gathered at the start (and finish) line on a narrow country road. The route would snake out, vaguely uphill before reaching a turning point and heading back along the same route. The start of the race required quite a bit of weaving, and the first half was run into a bit of a tough wind. The weaving route allowed you to see the leaders running up on the far side of the fields surrounding the route, quite a nice touch for a small-ish event. At sections the route was a little wet and muddy, but nothing too serious. KM markers helped me to easily calculate the pace I was running at – 4:30 for the first KM, which made me pick it up a bit. In the end I reached the turn at 10:50. One of the pleasures of out and back routes is that you get to see the leaders running back past you and vice versa, and I saw several St A XC’ers running strongly – though I failed to spot Roger, which made me think he’d pulled up somewhere injured.
The second half of the race was faster- pushing on and trying to pick up other runners and chase that PB. The route was admittedly less windy this way and slightly more downhill, but I still managed to run much faster, being 10:50 at the turn and 21:01 at the finish. I had less left for a big finish than I normally do. The finish is a big long straight, and you can see the time slowly ticking past times you’d hoped to run as you try to get to the line. This meant I beat my PB by 10 seconds, nowhere near as much as I’d hoped to take out, but I’ll take it.
All of our XC’ers ran well, many agreeing with me that they’d run the second half quicker. I’ll put this down to brilliant St Andrews running tactics rather than the route! Kudos go to Roger Bryant who finished second in 18:12 in the MJU20 section, but got beaten by Halina Rees in their ongoing ‘rivalry’, as well as to Adam Boggon who managed the amazing feat of a PB in his first 5K! (18:42). Kudos to me as well, for being narrowly beaten by a man over the age of sixty, and a boy under the age of thirteen. I’m sure there were many other great St A XC performances, those are just the ones that jump out – full results HERE.
There were a lot of photographers out on the route, so I’m sure there’s a lot of snaps to come. Oh, and there was a world record. Y’know, no biggie. Apparently the 5K world record for a double amputee? Bit of a surprise that one to be honest.
There was a great spread of sandwiches and cakes in the race HQ afterwards. After our very professional warm down some of the best cakes had been snaffled- but we still managed to betray our student roots by gorging on the cheese sandwiches long after everyone else had called it a day on the food.
And of course, it’s the standard ‘I’m running the London Marathon for charity, so give me money’ plug. You can do it here.
Cheers for reading,