Race 4 of this season’s Cross Country series was hosted by our fellow canary-yellow clad friends in Metros. It always strikes me as odd to have a Cross country course bordered by the M25 and London underground’s Metropolitan Line (oh is that why they’re called Metros d’oh never figured that before). Despite it being the greatest distance for us to travel, it is one of the easier venues to get to and the facilities are probably the best in the series. The weather was milder this year inasmuch as we could actually get the flag spike into the ground without mining equipment. It is, I believe, the least well attended of the races and so it was for us with a mere 17 Coasters in attendance. I say a mere 17 but of course that would have been considered a bumper crop a few short years ago. On the plus side, fewer runners means a higher grubbage to human ratio. It is a sign of the popularity of the race series that we are running out of food earlier and earlier especially in the massive races like Datchet. This is why we have agreed to help out TVT in the catering department this season. March 7th is the date in case you want to start baking now; TheGreatCoastersBakeOff anyone?

The pre race briefing was inaudible but included a how-to guide on ski slope running (yes indeed) but thankfully it was short and the field was off; James Craggs showing early intent with what I can only describe as a mad dash. The first field loop did a good job of spreading out the field with James C, Ollie and Matt Y showing early promise. As always Carol started well keeping the field in full view. The theme was clearly mud mud mud, a stream to clean the shoes and few hills but not of Handy Cross proportions. It was great to see Gav Newby back and in great form, no problem negotiating the disused ski slope apparently (perhaps he was the one paying attention). Laps 2 and 3 really saw the field string out. This brings its own set of problems with lapping; slower runners feeling a little threatened by frustrated faster runners. Some of the course is single track so this situation is far from ideal, still, this is London and space is at a premium. Lap two is when some of the newer ladies were gaining places, pretty impressive running by any standard let alone for their first time out. Victoria, Sophie and Jo are a great addition to the club and we hope to see them at the races for the remainder of the season.

The business end of the men’s race was terrific save for interesting (read non-existent) marshalling at the last bend. Let’s say Pythagoras would have been proud of the hypotenuse thread by the leading three men. In the end it made no difference as James had already moved from third into the sliver position and held on for a strong finish. Congratulations to Lance Nortcliff of  our friends Reading Road Runners and  the only one to better our James who was followed by another of his regular rivals Graham Robinson of our other friends from down the hill in Sandhurst. And what’s this! more yellow coming into view Ollie Hill charging for a top 10 finish absolutely fabulous running. 12 points for the first two runners then two more in the top 50 with Matt Yarnell 28th and Mr Mac finishing within the half century for the very first time. The remaining scorers were Jones of different stripes both in top 60, nice work Dave and Rhodri. It was great to see Paul Evans down from the hills of Cumbria for the occasion as well as Tim Elford ,Andy Clemson and our perineal die hard Mr Kelleher. So at the time of writing, Men’s team scored 202 points and third position.

Meanwhile, the ladies were coming in thick and fast led not unusually by the one and only Carol Yarrow in position 4 with Emily running as strong as I have ever seen to be our second lady home in 16th place. Some of our regulars are still on maternity duty, and less plausible absence reasons, but were dutifully replaced by our afore-mentioned three maiden runners bringing the ladies team home in 6th position. Our overall position for the week is 5th- not too shabby.

And so to the overall series update, well, it’s very simple. We are 6th in Men’s, ladies’ and overall. We’re only one point behind the bucolically named Windle Valley so a few more ladies and the return of some speedy Coaster boys could well improve that!

Finally, take a trip down memory lane or laugh at some of the gurning in the photos on our Flickr channel here