Portsmouth Summer XC

It’s a dreary wet Wednesday evening in June what better way to spend it than running round a hilly, muddy 5 mile course through the spectacular Queen Elizabeth country park.

“Portsmouth Joggers Club offers you an ideal opportunity to escape the pounding of the roads and get into the country. The course is on scenic forest tracks over a distance of approximately 5 miles. We are grateful to Forest Enterprise and Hampshire County Council for allowing us the use of QUEEN ELIZABETH COUNTRY PARK, which makes an ideal setting for this event.”

Portsmouth Joggers put this event on annually and this was my first time and hopefully not my last. It’s a great value event at an incredibly reasonable £8 for affiliated runners or £10 for unaffiliated like me. As there is also a BBQ going you can preorder your post race noms, super smashing great!

This year there were two events rolled into one with a Canix event starting a bit earlier. It was great to clap and cheer these guys in before we started, I love seeing how happy these dogs are running with their hoomans!

There were something like 240 runners in the main event and we all tramped up to the start area to listen to Keirnan Easton, the RD, give a great pre-run briefing via megaphone, which wasn’t that mega as was a bit on the quiet side. I was far enough forward to hear it all. I love events like this where banter factors highly and it’s genuine and warmly received.

We got underway at 19:20 slip sliding along on the chalky mud. I’d opted for my Salomon Speedcross 3’s as footwear of choice for this course. For the first half mile or so I wasn’t sure if made the right choice as they were a bit slippy on the chalky mud surface, as soon as we had got to the first hill my choice was affirmed as being the right one.

This really is a lovely course, but it certainly is challenging. You’re straight into hills from the start, underfoot is muddy, tree roots everywhere, it’s up, it’s down, it’s uneven, it’s dark under tree cover, it’s grassy, it’s open, it’s a bit of everything, it’s just awesome! I love QE country park.

The course is well marked out and there is an army of cheering, smiling, supportive marshals at all major junctions and turns. These guys really are great, it’s said a thousand times, but these events just couldn’t happen without them. If you’ve never volunteered at an event then I really can’t recommend it enough, it’s an amazing experience.

I didn’t have the best of runs as I’m still suffering with my shoulder/back and lack of any real running over the past couple of weeks, BUT, that didn’t matter. I enjoyed myself massively regardless as went out just to enjoy running round the woods on a school night in great company, and I did just that.

I got around the 5 mile course in roughly 47 minutes, mile 2 was hard work which saw me slow to walking pace a couple of times.

If you’ve never run a trail race then I can’t recommend it enough and this is the perfect event to cut your teeth on. It’s friendly, well organised, well marshalled, in a stunning location and a nice distance. The finishers medal is also very nice too. It doesn’t get much better than this!

But wait, yes it does! I also received a spot prize when crossing the finish line, a Hilly long sleeved base layer courtesy of Alexandra Sports, result! 

Thank you to Keirnan, Portsmouth Joggers, Alexandra Sports and all the marshals/supporters/BBQers that made this evening happen.

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