On Saturday 17th November, a whopping 44 members of NUAXC travelled up to Edinburgh, despite the fact that this is a sport partly associated with hills and rain, to compete in the annual Edinburgh Braids Cross Country race, and what a weekend was in store for them.
After successfully herding 44 people onto a train, the first hurdle was out the way for Cross Country Captains Sean Haycock and Aoife Smith, and the racing hadn’t even started yet. Arriving into Edinburgh with a glorious blue sky (yes really), the adrenaline, nerves and anticipation were starting to build.
The Braids Cross Country race consists of both a 5km and 10km race, with men and women running together. It attracts a range of university teams, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Durham, Leeds and of course Newcastle, as well as members from local running clubs, meaning there is a wide range of ages and abilities. The race is one of the most looked-forward to on the uni race calendar due to its more relaxed atmosphere, and promise of stunning views from the top of Braids Hill looking down on the city of Edinburgh and across to Arthur’s Seat.
First up it was the 5k race, which was over a one loop course. The views from the top are spectacular, but a spectacular view suggests a hefty hill climb, which is precisely what this course involves. A steady 2.5km climb up, and you are rewarded with the view and the promise of some downhill. Callum Hanson was first home for Newcastle, and 3rd place in the overall 5km race, in an impressive time of 15.46- a great achievement, and Newcastle’s Meg Ellison was 8th lady home in a time of 19.05. A total of 288 runners took part in the 5km race.
After a nervous wait which was only intensified by seeing the grimacing faces of those crossing the finish line of the 5km, but at least now coated with face paint, it was the turn of the runners who had chosen to race the 10km. What brave souls. I have never climbed a mountain so I’m not 100% sure what it is like, but I imagine the pain of running 10km around this gruelling course must be similar. This race consisted of 2 laps, so at least these runners got to see the view from the top twice! Callum Hanson was again first home for Newcastle, closely followed by Chris Larkin, who finished in 41st and 56th place respectively. Special mention for Lauren Beckett-Davies who finished 9th lady in an impressive time of 41.18. A slightly smaller field this time of 209 runners completed the 10km race.
Edinburgh Braids is not an easy course at all, requiring good pacing and strength for hill running, but every member of NUAXC finished their race, and there was even a top 3 finish. NUAXC did themselves and Newcastle proud, and despite the pain of the hills and the early starts, I think that some might even have described the weekend as ‘fun’.