By Malcolm Runner
The North District Cross Country League (www.northleague.co.uk)
I've heard that as a club we used to compete in this, and now that after covid we have got used to running again it may be time to start promoting a bit of winter activity. Some of us keep training through the winter and you are all invited to take part and join us in some friendly competitive events.
My own experience of XC has been 'darn sarf': after joining a local running club just so as I could join in some track sessions, after a few years I also took part in winter races.
The races are not particularly long, yet they are hard due to the amount of mud that sticks to your shoes: it's basically a strength training session that track and field athletes use as a base for their hard spring and summer training, and it can be applied equally to trail runners :-)
I have fond memories of the national champs @ Parliament Hill: the course was run over and churned up by all the junior cats, then the senior women, and then the senior men got to race through the ensuing mud bath. There were a few places where you could pretty much guarantee seeing someone trying to find their shoe, but I think the 'north league' will not be so extreme. Try an internet search for pictures if you like.
Regardless of all this, the NDCC league looks very friendly and provides an opportunity for a bit of competition off road through the winter, an opportunity for awesome strength training and a social scene involving a day out with like minded friends. Advice for the wise: bring a change of clothes and shoes, plastic bags for wet/ muddy kit, & keep warm afterwards.
For the 2023/4 season the races are (all on Saturdays):
Race 1 – 28/10/23 – Lochaber
Race 2 – 18/11/23 – Ross County
Race 3 – 9/12/23 – Forres (Committee)
Race 4 – 20/01/23 – Peterhead
Race 5 – 3/02/23 – Nairn
Details will be available from the NDCC website closer to the time; currently (early September 23) we can only see last years events. Senior races (and we have no juniors) are a max of 8.5k and start at 2:15pm: if you are happy running that then you are welcome to join in. Events will be publicised shortly before on our Facebook page.
To join in it's simply a matter of turning up (& car share), wearing a club vest, and stating your name, club and age group (M/F senior/V40/V50/V60) at the finish. You will be given a finish token as you cross the line, similar to parkrun. There's a small fee (£2 per runner) but CR will pay for this at the end of the season, you don't need to care about this. It's a club event (but there are individual rankings) and for the club results the first four runners count. It's great that a few fast runners have expressed an interest, but as we cannot rely on them turning up every month, it really will make a big difference if 'rank & file' club members take part: everyone is important! Seriously: if you are the third or fourth runner for the club no matter where you place it matters.
If for historical reasons you are first claim for another club e.g. in Wales, England, or another part of Scotland (e.g. Aberdeen) then you can run as second claim for Cairngorm Runners: we are allowed two such runners per race.
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