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McCain Cross-Country Challenge – Liverpool –  24 November 2012

Piers Copeland reports.

It was a tremendous weekend up in Liverpool. We had a great time and got to miss a day off school because of it, which was fantastic!

We left at about 9:30am on Friday morning, hoping to get there at about 2ish, so that we could walk the course that day and we didn’t have to get up as early the next morning. But, this was England so predictably there was going to be some surprises on the way up there. So, about 100 miles in, on the M40 we hit a massive traffic jam and we weren’t moving. This took us about two hours to get through and then we still had 140 miles to go, so me and Grace decided to play eye-spy. Eventually, though we did get there, at about 6pm. So we knew we couldn’t walk the course and we would have to get up earlier the next morning.

As we hit the ‘Beefeater’ for our late evening meal, we started to discuss what the event would be like, and we came to the conclusion that it was going to be inevitably challenging. As we were tucking ourselves into bed, we remembered that ‘I am a Celebrity’ was on and we frantically turned the TV to catch the remainder of the show. After this though, we eventually turned in for the night.

Early morning came and Grace and I were extremely nervous, because of the challenge that was lying ahead. As we went to breakfast I was very unhappy with Mum and Dad because they got to eat ‘Full English’ and I had to have sloppy porridge. But I knew that it was for the best. We left the Premier Inn and headed for Sefton Park (the venue). I thought about how I was going to run the race, and I came to the conclusion that I should go out slower and wind it up; this is because of the sheer number of people my race.

We made it to Sefton Park at about 9:30 and decided it would be best if we walked the course straightaway, this was because we thought that it would give us sufficient time to warm up. We walked the course and it was extremely flat and the ground was like a sponge. Every step we took our feet became drenched in water and mud, there was also a light frost on the ground, which made the course even muddier when it came to the race. There was one minor hill that was about 20 metres long. As Grace warmed up for her race which was at 11:15am the sun suddenly dipped behind the clouds and the temperature really started to descend to below 0oC.

Grace’s race started and she got a good start and had a nice position going into the first bend in about 25th position. It was all up from here though, she was one-by-one picking off the girl’s ahead of her. With about 200m to go Grace was about 17th, but when they hit the home straight, a sudden burst of paced got her into 15th which was a fantastic achievement and she still has another year in that year group! Well done Sis!!

Next up was my race. The ground had now become a muddy swimming pool; there were streams on either side of the course and the mud was ankle deep. This was a challenging race. The competition was top class. I went off slower so that I would have more left in the second half when everyone started to die. This was a great tactic and boded well for me in the race. I went off in about 75th place, but throughout the race I keep passing people and I made my way up to about 60th position. By this time, my feet and hands were frozen to the bone. With about 500m to go, I gave it my all and by the end I had finished 56th out of 146 people. I was extremely happy because I knew I had another year in this age group just like Grace.

Other people we saw up there from neighbouring clubs was Bridget Dence, Ben Westhenry (Weymouth) and Glen Balfour (Bournemouth). They all did very well as well. Bridget came 21st out of 105, Glen came 34th out of 127 and Ben came 12th out of 110 and looked very strong throughout.

I really enjoyed my time at Liverpool, great atmosphere and great people; I will be going back next year and hopefully do better. I hope that some other Wimborners will be able to join us next year though!


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