The Borders Cross Country League is a friendly series with fields averaging approximately 150 so you get to recognise the same faces you are competing with at each event and you can take your relative position as a guide as to whether you are having a good run or not. The venues are located in various towns throughout the Borders, each having a fairly unique course with its own idiosyncrasies! The courses are all in the 4-5 mile range though some are definitely more demanding than others. The cost is £10 for the series so if you run all six races, it works out about £1.67 to enter each race. Compare that to all the road races charging £12 – £20 per event!!!
It’s focus is on a league championship and as such there are no prizes on a race by race basis, it is all based on overall league position with your best 4 scores counting towards the final placings. There are prizes to the top three in all age categories and also an overall team trophy. Everyone completing at least four races, gets awarded a horse brass!!!
Norham: A venture into the English borders (1/2 mile over the tweed) starts on a path but then heads across fields and involves jumping a fence, before heading down into a valley across a small burn and having a luxury of a rope to help pull yourselves up a muddy slope to get out the other side!
Dunbar: Starts on a salt marsh then the majority of the race is along beach and sand dunes with a couple of inlet crossings before a forest trail through the trees back to the finish line.
Gala: An icy course this year, a loop on a stony path before heading out and up the hills. Just when you think you are getting close to home there is a sting in the tail when you are diverted up a steep slope and back down via a burn crossing before regaining the path for final sprint.
Peebles: Nice gentle lap of rugby fields before heading up a narrow path at the side of the Tweed, thankfully we get a bridge to cross the river then we get some hill work. Some fairly steep hills both up and down separate the men from the boys. Race ends with a flat muddy path which goes past the finish before doubling back for the final sprint to the line.
Berwick: This key word to describe this race is sand! The race starts in soft dune sand at Spittal point, Tweedmouth before heading along Spittal Beach proper for just over a mile. The course then climbs up onto the cliff path towards Huds Head before turning back on itself and heading back towards the beach. The wind made for a tough return to Spittal Point this year though it was nothing compared to the ‘one-step-forward half-a-step-back’ blown dune sand at the finish!
Lauder: A lap of a football field then a small loop complete with wooden bridges before a long had slog up a never ending hill! Not sure the exact distances involved but feels like you go uphill for about 2 miles then lose the height over about 100 yards before coming back along the very undulating valley floor with one or two opportunities to get your feet slightly wet and many opportunities to go over your ankle!. Then it’s uphill to get back out of the valley and a long downhill finish to the football field.
How the club fared this year
The club did well this year despite early worries that we wouldn’t live up to last years performance. Our successes were largely on the women’s side in contrast to last year. Sue Ridley won the overall women’s competition and F40 category with Sarah Balancier in 3rd place overall and taking the FS category. Eli Rius competed in 3 rounds with fine performances at Norham and Berwick in what were quite testing conditions for a newcomer to XC.
On the men’s side Garry Robertson was 4th in the MV45 category and 15th overall. Jonathan Whitehead competed in four rounds and finished 6th in the M50 category. Graeme Brown completed all 6 rounds to finish 12th in the MS category.
The club fell in the team rankings to 6th place in 2007/2008 down from our excellent Matt Bell powered 2nd place last year. Hopefully a larger turnout, particularly on the men’s side, this coming season will help propel us up the rankings again.
For more information on the Borders XC series and some photos got to the Norham Running Club site:
http://www.norhamrc.co.uk/ and follow the link to XC2007-8.