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English National XC Championships, Parliament Hills, London, Sat 24th February 2018 Print

ImageA good contingent of Harriers went down to Parliament Hills for this years National. The skys were clear and the ground relatively firm with only a brisk, bitter wind to spoil the day. Then the racing started.

The ladies were led home by national debutante Vicki and there were excellent performances for the whole team. I would like to single out Manisha for special praise as she is not the fastest but this cross country season she has been running as well as I have see her do in many years. Well done to Jenny for marshalling the team and fostering a great team spirit which really showed on Saturday.

 Vicki Bone 
 583 Emma Donnelly   
 656 Pauline Hygate
 762 Clare Bovill
 876 Jenny Price
 961 Manisha Parmar

1113 runners completed the course.

The ladies finished 76th of 84 complete teams. Well done.

For the men's race we were missing the ever present Craig and must conclude that everything that went right was the result of his absense. We were not the last bus out of the car park for once.

While some felt the couse was not too muddy it was very slippy in places and more like a ploughed feild  in others while the traditional big field led to the usual crushes and waits at pinch points on the first lap. Darren was first in (does that surprise anyone?) followed by Paul and Simon. Paul's performances have improved as the season progressed and this was an appropriate way to round it off. I can't mention everyone but Dave P had a very strong run (where were you all season) while Tahir seems to be coming back to his early season form. Well done all.

 1050 Darren Riley 
 1358 Paul Webster 
 1577 Simon Hodges 
 1650 Tahir Akhtar
 1732 Dave Pearson
 1786 Barry O'Neill 
 1820 Graham Hygate
 1961 Andy Law
 Andy Wadsworth 
 2215 Charles Fentiman
 2221 Kevin Morris 1.14.00

2328 runners completed the course.

The team finished 148th of 162 complete teams (6 to count) or 88 of 90 (9 to count).

Full results can be found here .

Next year is pencilled in for Harewood House near Leeds. Put it in your diaries.

Some comments on the day:

Andy Law writes >

What a roller coaster ride of a day, and i’m not talking about Barry & Simons driving [ which was excellent by the way ] but the course of Parliament Hill. It has got to be one of the best races I’ve competed in so far, The feeling of being pushed and swept along as the race progressed encourages you to find that extra gear you need on a course as testing as this to pass your fellow competitors.

Thanks to Craig, Barry and everyone else at the club for getting me through my first season in X country, I’ve loved every minute of it.

Andy Law.


Manisha writes >

Barry and Simon looked after us with excellent navigation and co-ordination in our big day out to London. The journey was made pleasant with a luxurious mini-bus (compared to previous years) and the pick-ups ran smoothly. We just missed Craig and the singing.

Parliament Hill is an amazing venue for the National and it is always tough with the uphill start. It’s an incredible sight at the top of Hampstead Heath with the skyline of London in the distance. In the field you have the beautiful array of tents, runners in their proud vests and the roaring sound that stays with you forever! This year the ground was slightly firm, but we were not being misled as soon as we hit the boggy mud in so many sections it was difficult to imagine how to get your foot out.  My favourite sections have got to the woody parts.

It was great watching all of our men coming in with their red vests and we all cheered, “Come on Sparkhill Harriers!” Then the usual scramble for the hoodie stall. On the way home Simon suggested the Harvester and we had some lovely warm food. Then a snooze on the mini-bus home and everyone got home safely. A  warm big thank you to Simon and Barry.


Pauline writes >

Thank you everyone for making the day so fun and memorable, and thanks especially Barry and Simon, great and much appreciated effort with the driving and navigating around.
There had been a good bit of build up to this race and personally I felt it was all justified! It’s great that it fell after the leagues had finished and acted as a grand finale and chance to put all the race training (thanks again, Barry and Craig) into practice!
It was well worth the journey to Parliament Hill for the setting and huge numbers of competing teams creating a wonderful atmosphere there. After the crush of the start and once the congestion had eased a bit there was a chance to register all the other club vests, and I liked seeing familiar clubs around and even familiar faces to challenge myself against. Saw a few more tumbles in the mud than any race I’d done! Hills were a tough challenge but worth it for the scale of the course and the views of London especially as the course took the last turn downhill out of the trees to the finish in the open field.
Thanks everyone for great company during the trip.


Graham Writes >

Thanks very much Barry for organising the transport yesterday and Simon for driving. It made the whole trip stress-free for the rest of us so much appreciated.

You asked for feedback on the day. It was my first run at Parliament Hill and I loved it - the course and the atmosphere. Personally I like the hills as they help me know where I am on the course. It was exasperating to lose hard-won places to runners who ran on firm ground outside the tapes where it was muddy - I guess more / better trained marshalls would help prevent this. But generally it was an exhilarating run and I particularly loved the long downhill to the finishing straight. It was also really nice to travel as a team and have time to socialise.

Looking forward to Leeds!


Jenny writes >

You asked people to send reviews to you. I’m normally one for sending long paragraphs, but think only a few words are needed to capture the amazing experience of Parliament Hill:

Special, Challenging, Rewarding, Belonging, Proud.

Many thanks,




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