ISA North Regional Cross-Country Championship 2018 at Beech House School, Rochdale

Our annual pilgrimage to Rochdale introduced a new element to the mix with it not being so wet, windy and miserable as it usually is, but freezing and icy under a glorious blue sky.  The sun gave the illusion of warmth but it really wasn't - illustrated through the grimacing faces of these young athletes as they pushed their weary limbs up the final, most energy sapping hill before the finishing straight.

All had negotiated the frenzied sprint to the first bend; the perilous icy descent towards the quagmire of doom - a boggy section as broad as it was long, with no refuge or option but to try your luck at traipsing, head-on, hoping and praying that the suction from this shin deep mud did not benefit from ones inability to tie their shoes tightly.  Even the duck tape could not resist this invisible force!  Needless to say, even though all emerged muckier than they had entered, the quagmire of doom had claimed its victims: left shoe, right shoe, socks, in a couple of cases both shoes and socks and in most cases a little bit of pride!

The final hill really hurts.  For many it is a stop/start affair, too much having lost all energy on the previous challenges.  Words of encouragement were met with stares of disillusionment and pain, a shake of the head or a simple 'Thanks!' as they walked past...

This is a challenging event but the children never seem to be deterred from taking part - however harsh we make it sound - and all credit to them.  Our 'team' out-performed previous years, running with purpose and determination and real competitive spirit.

Each race had between 120 and 140 runners in it and notable performances were:

Jake van Cutsem - 4th
Felix Hodgkinson - 5th
Ellie Gillespie - 4th
William Stewart - 12th
Zac Jones - 13th

A massive well done to all who took part, many making real improvements on their positions from last year.

Published: Thursday, 8th February 2018