Tonbridge athletes at National XC 2024

Rain Stops Play!

Disappointment as bad weather spikes National Cross Country Champs…

There was shock, confusion, disappointment, and even some anger when the English Cross Country Association (ECCA) announced the postponement of the Saucony English National Cross Country Championships due to be held on Saturday 24 February at Weston Park, Telford, Shropshire.

The decision was announced on social media around 11:00am on Friday 23 February – too late to stop the many hundreds of athletes, coaches and supporters who were already en route to the venue from being able to cancel their travel and accommodation arrangements without serious financial loss.

The ECCA posted on Facebook: "We very much regret to announce that despite every effort being made, we are unable to hold the National Championships at Weston Park on Saturday. Thursday saw torrential rain for many hours, and much of the Park, including parking areas are underwater. Falling on already saturated ground, made conditions impossible for parking. We have spent the last 24 hours exploring every possible alternative, but we have not been able to solve the parking issues".

The ECCA statement continued with a hope the 2024 Championships could be held at a future date and concluded: "We sincerely apologise for all the logistical and financial problems that this will cause both clubs and individuals. Further announcements will be made as soon as we can do so with any certainty."

Club runners had travelled from the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands – the latter group having also suffered huge disappointment and significant financial loss when the South of England Inter-Counties Championships were called off minutes before the first race!

Some clubs planned to run as tourists in the Telford parkrun which was also cancelled due to ice on the course. After torrential rain on Thursday night, a sudden drop in temperature saw freezing conditions on Saturday morning and Telford parkrun's message on their Facebook page indicated concerns about the numbers they might have expected: "Following a course inspection this morning, we regret to inform you that today's parkrun is cancelled due to dangerous ice patches, making it unsafe for a large number of participants. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

With so many finely tuned athletes left with no outlet club coaches were kept busy devising training sessions where spikes could be worn and the event simulated to some extent. Pictured above are a group from Tonbridge AC, with a four-legged fan, who tackled The Wrekin at 1,335 feet above sea level for some 'altitude training' in what ironically proved to be perfect weather conditions!

Previous English National XC results and reports at the runABC race listing here.

Photo courtesy Polly Pitcairn-Knowles of Tonbridge AC

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