There’s no denying it, BUCS Cross Country is always tough, but the atmosphere is like no other cross country race you will ever do. It is the only race where you are constantly running through a tunnel of people, being screamed at and encouraged the entire race. In BUCS XC there is no time for your thoughts to wonder as the encouragement is constant. It is an experience you will never forget.
To say I wasn’t nervous going into the race would be a lie, I was more nervous than I thought I would be. Having suffered in the mud at Liverpool, I was nervous as to how I would respond to the mud this time, but I was determined to prove my strength. I knew if I raced sensibly and bravely, I would be able to show my ability. I was also so determined to improve on my placing from last year that I had put pressure on myself to perform well. But, a little bit of nervous energy is always a good thing right?
I’m not always one for mantras, but there was a key phrase that stuck in my mind and fuelled by determination when the going got tough. Someone said to me before the race, ‘cross country is tough, but you’re tougher’ and this really resinated with me. Therefore, on my hand, I wrote, ‘I’m tougher’, and when it felt difficult I remembered I had more to give and I was stronger than the challenges the race threw at me. I had trained hard to be able to push through the pain and I needed to do my training justice.
The course itself was the polar opposite to my last race in Seville. There was minimal mud in Seville and it was bright sunshine, but Edinburgh was a different story. Whilst we were very fortunate that it didn’t rain much and the sun was out, the wind was also out in full force. The course was the same as the Great Edinburgh Cross, so there were some short, sharp hills, and some ditches and streams to jump over and run through. Walking the course it didn’t seem too tough, but running it was a definitely a challenge. The mud was deep and thick and whilst the hills weren't long, you definitely felt them when you were running through thick mud at the same time. So yes, it was a tough course, but I loved it all! The tougher the better in my eyes, and a chance for me to show that 'I'm tougher'.
To say that might have been my last ever BUCS XC is scary! It doesn’t seem last week that I was on the start line for my first BUCS, feel extremely scared and out of my depth. But, it is this that makes any achievements even more valuable. In my first year I was emotionally and physically weak. I remember stopping half way, running up to my mum and crying. I was exhausted and genuinely too weak to face the challenge. However, since then, I have changed my life around. I have become physically and emotionally stronger and achieved more than the Hannah in first year would ever have even dreamed of. In my first year I came 370th, in my second year I watched from the sidelines with stress fractures, in 2019 I came 18th, a position I never expected to come, and this year I came 13th. As cheesy as it sounds, this only proves one thing to me. Never give up and keep putting in the hard work, because if you believe in yourself, you can achieve things you never thought possible. And I know, I am only just getting started, because there is a lot more to come.
I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!