Good evening sports fans.
On Sunday Feb 3rd a small (but perfectly formed) contingent of Harriers skipped over the County border and took part in the Heathfield Park Cross County 5 mile (ish) race. The event is part of the East Sussex Sunday Cross Country League. As such, neighbouring County club members are very welcome to attend their events , albeit we don’t score points towards their league. Previous local events within this league have included Snape Wood and of course the epic Ashdown Forest event.
This race was run in the privately owned Heathfield Park hunting estate (15 miles from TW). There was a junior 2 mile race at 10am and the seniors race took place at 10.30am. It’s a 2 lap run, with each loop differing slightly. Entry was £4 on the day and included a banana on completion….if you were able to keep food down at that point. Changing and toilet facilities were available in Heathfield Leisure centre, located 2 mins jog from the start line. Atmosphere was very relaxed, but very well organised. Pre run briefing was short and to the point. Ice warnings and Hills warnings included.
Before the race started we took the opportunity of checking with a marshal if they felt mud claws (short rubber spikes) were actually necessary, as there was a tarmac section and surely the ground was firm due to the freezing temperatures….he gave us a knowing smile and said that “mud claws would be just fine….in fact, did we have any long spikes with us”…anticipation started to build.
I personally haven’t run many Cross Country events (compared to some of you legends), so please obviously do factor that into the equation when I say the following…..
This race is possibly the most brutal, challenging, amazing, bonkers, ‘undulating’, relaxed atmosphere, well marshalled, stunning setting, short coursed XC event I know of. It was literally (and actually up some of the hills) breath-taking. Conditions on the day (and course terrain and profile) probably played into this and we had all of the following:
- Freezing temperatures
- Bright blinding sun
- Deep unspoilt Snow
- Sludgy Snow
- Ice that you could see
- Ice that you couldn’t see
- More mud
- Water jumps
- Water that couldn’t be jumped
- Massive hills (at least 3)
- A walking hill (that steep)
- Tree obstacle (helpfully at the top of the walking hill)
- Short tarmac sections
- Rocky tracks
- Grass hillocks
Best way I can describe this event was like our glorious Eridge Park in miniature. It felt ruinous during the run, then immediately after crossing the finish line it felt like a momentous achievement, just to have got round the course. No beer on offer though, so they lose significant points there.
If the East Sussex XC league run this event next year I give my strongest recommendation to you all to give it a go. It’s something a bit special.
Harriers finishing times below for reference, but please do appreciate that this was not a course for fast times – survival was top priority…..which I think we mostly achieved…mostly (my hamstrings would disagree).
Field of 257 runners:
Full results: 2019_Feb3rd_HeathfieldESSXCL
Oh….and I can recommend Monday Track sessions as an excellent way to limber up very tired legs….OK, that’s not official advice…but it works for me!
Sweet dreams all…might sneak a quick ice bath in before bed though.