The 2023-24 cross-country season is under way! Bring on the shorter days and unpleasant weather for once more running muddy laps of faraway fields and parks!
See below/scroll down for both the coming fixtures of the 2023-24 winter and the results of the races of the 2022-23 season.
We may be Road Runners by name, but not necessarily by nature. Come October, the attraction of the tarmac diminishes and PRRs can be found (arguably) enjoying the camaraderie, cold, sludge and tarpaulin tents of the Scottish cross-country (XC) circuit. In recent years, the club’s XC faction has grown ever stronger (particularly the ladies’ team) and it is not unusual now to see 15-20 PRRs at XC fixtures.
The season starts at the beginning of October and culminates in the Scottish National Championships in late February, which are invariably held at Callendar Park in Falkirk. All races are held on Saturday afternoons (except the Masters, held on a Sunday… no idea why…). The season typically comprises four National fixtures (Relays, Short Course Champs, Masters (40+) and the Champs proper) and five races in the Scottish East District. This region covers a slice of Scotland that results from a division of Scotland into two lateral halves (West and East) as far north as Aberdeen (where the North District takes hold). The East area includes the teams of Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk, Aberdeen and Tayside, being some 50+ competing clubs in all. The five District fixtures are: Relays, Championships and three League matches. The merry-go-round of venues typically includes, each year: Stirling, Galashiels, Lanark, Cumbernauld (for the National Relays), Aberdeen, Livingston, Broxburn, Dundee, Johnstone … and increasingly Perth (the 2021-2 National Relays were held in the grounds of Scone Palace, as were the 2022-3 Inter-District Champs in Jan 2023).
Race distances for standard (non-relay) races are typically 6-7km for the ladies and 8-10km for the men; the notable exception is found at the National Championship where everybody runs 10km. Relay legs are typically 4km in length (and 3 or 4 in number, depending on gender and age group).
PRR have seen some fine successes in recent years. The trio of Stuart Robertson, Duncan Ryan and David Knight achieved V50 glory at the National Relay Champs for two runnings on the bounce (2019 and 2021); when joined by Eddie Torrie, this team then secured V50 gold at the 2022 National Masters Champs. The ladies, never to be outdone, and in the form of Erni Hamilton, Tessa Ward and Louise Waywell, secured F50-59 Silver at the National Masters in 2022. As ever with XC, there is little substitute for getting as many people out to the races as possible; XC success is, in no small part, a numbers game.
Footwear is an important consideration; XC spikes are de rigeur for most courses, being the preferred option of almost all the leading athletes. However, as trail racing shoes become ever better, these are also often worn and allow a little more latitude on courses with harder surfaces or tree roots (the latter being a particular hazard at Alloa and Livingston!).
Club colours (vests, race T-shirts) are essential wear for the XC circuit, and it’s the one time where (owing to regulations all to wear exactly the same kit) we have to insist on the wearing of the newer, RQW (Really-Quite-White) vest pattern (as visible in the team photos above and below). It’s also necessary to be a member of Scottish Athletics.
Additionally, the club now (as of the 2019-20 season) offers a XC season/completer medal. Finish four of the eight events that is/are not the National Masters (excluded as not open to all PRRs) and you walk away with some shiny (if inexpensive) bling at our Spring presentation evening.
The club has many experienced XC runners, but they have been recently joined by a number of excellent newcomers. We would love to see more recent arrivals at/to PRR join us; if that’s you, our current captains are Fabienne Thompson and Kevin Riddell (please contact via email@example.com). Entry fees for XC races are currently met from the club coffers and meet-ups at Broxden for car-sharing are now a standard feature of winter Saturdays.
FIXTURES of/for winter 2023-24 (National races are underlined)
- East District Relays – Livingston – Sat 7th October – RESULTS
- East District League 1 – Kirkcaldy – Sat 14th October – RESULTS
- National Relays – Cumbernauld – Sat 21st October – RESULTS
- National Short Course Champs – Lanark – Sat 4th November – RESULTS
- East District League 2 – Dundee – Sat 18th November – RESULTS
- East District Championships – Aberdeen – Sat 2nd December – DETAILS HERE
- Inter-District Championships – Renfrew – Sat 13th January ** – DETAILS HERE
- East District League 3 – Bathgate – Sat 27th January
- National Masters Championships – Forres – Sunday 11th February – DETAILS HERE – note Sunday aspect!
- National Championships – Falkirk – Sat 24th February – DETAILS HERE
** weird one. Runners enter in a personal capacity, unless selected to represent a district. Not a PRR XC medal event.
As a final word- and in no particular order – here’s how ladies’ captain Fabienne sells the XC experience…XC sees you run through the winter gracefully and with Club support/camaraderie. Men cheer women and vice versa. From elite to tail end, you experience genuine support & admiration.
+ XC is not PB-obsessed; you can plod or blast and there is no minimum speed.
+ It’s a great atmosphere, stripped free of any unnecessary glamour. You learn to deal with the elements (character building/good prep for all racing).
+ Relays: there is no fear of feeling humiliated (because it looks confusing to spectators ) – not that humiliation has a place in any race.
+ Buy those spikes asap (they sell fast) and baptise them; you really feel the part.
+ It’s amazing what can happen to the club result if people just bother to turn up.
+ We’re a very organised club (many are not).
+ Benefit from tips and support from experienced XC runners and become that experienced person; we all have.
+ Make new friends at PRR and beyond.
+ The club pays your race entry fees!
+ Beat the winter blues.
+ Use the track (safe/free/coached) as part of training routine. Use Camperdown/Faskally/Plean Parkruns as training runs on non-racing Saturdays.
+ If you’re in training for longer distance, it’s possible to add distance by warming down along the course.
+ You will never be stuck for transport.
+ Go wild with green (socks, gloves, buff, mascot, make-up!).
+ Reality is never as awful as you anticipated it would be.
+ There’s often some cake @ the club gazebo.
+ Most of all, revel in that glowing feeling (and an invariably dirty bath) when you get home and what you’ve just achieved hits you .