Bleak, muddy and brooding it might well have been. Freezing it certainly was. It was also buzzing, not least in anticipation of the England Athletics mystery gift for every Senior finisher, as this 50th season final fixture got underway.
Despite the minor earthworks going on around us, That Hill certainly hadn’t got any smaller since last time, as around 170 women lined up, stepped back, and set off for its greasy north face. We saved our best showing for last as seven Woodettes started the race: 3.7 miles in 2 identical laps - flat but for one steep, stepped climb up to The Palace and a swooshing downhill. Made nice and slippery after a wettish few weeks.
With the legendary Gundo away on family biz, and U23 Alicia McArdell dropping out early on, it was left to Rachel Lund (27) to lead the squad, and with her strongest run this season in her own spikes this time, she put in a fine performance. Next was Zoe Watson (41) only 50” behind, boosted by a run of solid training, and delighted to be regaining some of her strength after a season dogged by illness. Sara Beedell (53) made a welcome return to the squad for third, followed by V45 Jenny Thomas (73) for fourth. V50 Susan Edwards, getting stronger with every run now her ankle woes are over, was 12” behind in 5th. Closing for the team - with a full house this season - was V45 Alex Wardle (111).
It was always going to be tough to move positions with our chronic lack of depth; but we should take something from the fact that we have closed a six in each of the matches this season. We finished Saturday joint eighth with Serpentine B and the League in seventh. Our poorest result yet in the senior league; though we did finish top of Vets Div 2 - though it comes to something when the backbone of our squad is as old as the League itself.
And the mystery gift? What else could the hardened cross country runner desire than an anniversary towel in blackest black: all the better to absorb that filthy London mud. Congratulations Met League! Here’s to the next 50!