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Cross-country at Burton Dassett country park on Saturday 10 February 2024 Men – Birmingham League Division 3

Well, what a fabulous place to have a cross-country race. The country park rises to 692’ and affords fabulous views. As I was running over probably the highest point on the course a marshal said enjoy the view.  He was not wrong.  It was opened as a country park in 1971 and if you’ve never visited, I recommend that you do. 

Some of us were pondering whether there were iron age remains there. I’ve found nothing to say there are, but what might account for the dips and hollows is the fact that there was in years gone by ironstone quarrying. The outside of the stone is typically brown because of oxidation but scrape that away and you get to the core of the stone which is grey. 

James H came up trumps again with the pub after the race. Just away from the course is a lovely village called Avon Dassett and it has a pub called The Yew Tree. It is a community led pub and has fabulous beer and we got a table fairly close to a wood burning stove. Bliss!  

The course might be described as hilly (I jest). James H questioned at what point a cross-country race becomes a fell race. It was tough and one particular section was difficult to navigate because of the camber. Cambers are very tricky when the ground is wet and muddy. There was also a short but steep section which was muddy where some of us had to rely on hands and knees to get to the top on one or more laps. We had to go up it 4 times!  For a full recap of the course see this great video filmed by Ian from the Massey Runners.

Surprisingly, overall the course wasn’t too muddy. This was probably because on much of the course the water would have run away down the hill. I think the course designer enjoyed having an uphill finish.  Okay it wasn’t too steep, but it was muddy and hard going after a really testing race.  Hands up those who managed a sprint finish.

It is difficult for me to report on individual performances because I was running and let’s be honest most of the action was in front of me.

Full results via the following link:

James P finished second junior in the race and equal first junior over the series of races with the best 3 performances counting.  James was first junior home in 2 races and second junior home in 1.  Therefore, he scored a total of 4 points.  Well done James.  I’m not certain but I think that since I’ve been at the club (1995) we might not have had another first junior.  What is even more impressive is that James has 2 more seasons in the junior category. 

Junior medal presentation

Sas and Charles R deserve a mention.  This was their first cross-country season and both did really well, completing 3 races each. What is really promising for next season is that they both improved as the season went on. Sas was 162nd in the first race and moved up to 139th on Saturday.  Charles was 185th in his first race and moved up to 135th on Saturday. What will next season bring with a spring and summer of training?  

Darren also deserves a mention. Not only did he complete 4 races but improved from 114th in the first race to 64th on Saturday.  We’re all hoping that Darren won’t have an argument with a loft ladder before next season and that he goes into it fully fit. 

Post race debrief
Debriefing after the race

I know from speaking to Darren that he is so pleased that James has run well this season. Darren no longer Sparkhill’s number 1. Who would have believed it? 

At the end of the season we finished 15th out of 21 teams. I think we’re on an upward trajectory and next season is looking promising.

Although not part of the official results the division does provide unofficial results for Masters. In this the club finished the season 14th out of 21 (A team) and 6th out of 15 (B team).

I was very pleased with the number of runners we got out this year. A total of 19 runners appeared for the club over the 4 races which is the most for a good few years. Unfortunately, events conspired against us for the 3rd race at Pelsall where we only managed 10 runners. If we’d have managed to get 12 out we’d have finished a B team over the season. We need 12 to run and finish a race. Next season, let’s aim to finish a B team in every race.

Runners who appeared in all 4 races are:



Andy W

James H

Andy C

Well done, especially considering all the illnesses going round this autumn and winter.

Thank you to Graham Heeley for his support and attendance through the season. This means that we rarely have to provide an official.

We had a few supporters this season.  Thank you to Paul, Gavin and Mick. Andy C’s dog didn’t make it this year. We certainly benefit from this support. 

Mick, there’s still a space for you to run.

Let me make it clear. Rob was not dropped for the last race. He kindly volunteered to act as a marshal. Thank you Rob.  




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