Despite parking almost as far away from the start line as the race distance itself, the walk through Petersham to Ranelagh Harriers club house, at the Petersham Gate of Richmond Park, afforded a fascinating glimpse into a part of London far removed from the hubbub of Tooting.
Once registered at ground level four of the HHH women ascended the steep Petersham Hill in the Autumn sunshine to assemble and warm up at the summit. Psychologically this was a great place to start a race, in beautiful countryside, on a clear Autumn day, looking out across the city to St Pauls and beyond. By 2.30 we were joined by 50 other women to start the undulating two lap course, and from my advantageous viewpoint, towards the back of the field, I could see that Sarah, Rebecca and Nici had got off to good starts.
The course by-passed the pond, and took us through paths in the bracken and the much appreciated shade of oak trees. By the second lap I still had sight of HH vests but my inability to make it to hill training began to tell and I had to resort to talking to myself to get up the final slope in a respectable fashion. The end was in sight, or so I thought, as I put on a final burst of speed to shake off a late rival, only to stop prematurely at the wrong finish line….
To my delight and surprise I later discovered that despite my error my team had gained a bronze medal in the W35 category. This placing was largely due to speedy times from Bec Barrow & Nici Cahusac, but I will be very happy to accept my first cross-country medal since primary school. Thank you ladies. Special mentions to Nici who came second in her category in an enviable 25: 10 minutes, and Gilly Dolphin who did better than she said.