I decided to watch the North West XC Championships yesterday. They were held in the grounds of Gransha Hospital Londonderry. That's what I know it as anyhow. However I think they are changing/have changed the name of the hospital in an attempt to do away with the perceived negative connotations of the name. Since the closure of the Londonderry Mental Asylum, Gransha has been the mental hospital for the City and environs. I can't imagine that a change of name will change public perception
The senior race was not scheduled until 12.25 so a few of my training compatriots joined me in a training session before the races. After a twenty minute warm up we ran 10 x400m on the road with a one minute static recovery between each rep. I am still experiencing pain in my left leg, but I managed to get through the reps although I know that I was dragging my leg rather badly. Still 80s per effort was just about acceptable in the circumstances.
By the time I had warmed down and changed the junior races had finished. It was time for the main race. Rather unusually the feature race at this meet includes juniors, senior men and women and vet men and women. I have to say that whilst this format facilitates the organisers it does hide the efforts of the female and vet runners. A total of 224 runners lined up for the race.
The overhead weather conditions were all that could be desired. It was relatively warm. There was no wind, nor rain and it was sunny. Friday's rain did not however improve the conditions underfoot. I saw three runners succumb to the lack of grip and take quite heavy falls. This just underlined my decision to avoid cross country races when at all possible.
From the start of the race, Declan Reed from City of Derry Spartans was clearly the in form runner. The lightly built and quick striding runner picked his way through the mud and sticky conditions with what seemed like effortless ease. Behind him the longer striding Dave Morewood of Annadale Striders pushed hard, but he still finished eight seconds adrift in a time of 19.07 for the 6k course, with Scott Rankin of Foyle Valley AC taking the third podium place in 19.24.
Sixty percent of the participants in the race were vets/masters. It is of course very laudable that so many older people should be involved in competitive running, but it is also rather worrying that there aren't more younger runners coming through the ranks. The race winner is 39 years of age and the runner up is 42. There were six '"vets," in the top twenty including one v50.