It was an early wake up call at 6:15, fortunately not a day later, when the day began. There was a chill in the air, and black clouds threatened an eventful morning when we set off.
The travel to RAF Collage Cranwell held signs of promise, as the skies were cleared by a brisk wind from the east. This enlightened my spirits slightly as the thought of getting wet in cross country did not seem to match.
As I arrived with my family there was an air of doubt, trepidation and excitement in all the athletes from across the nation. I was greeted by Sqn Ldr Truman, my regional physical education officer, and Sqn Ldr Mcarrol, my wing physical education officer, as I arrived at the Sultan of Quboos sports pavilion. I collected my team apparel and got changed into them so as to look more like a uniform squad. All of the athletes were eager to carry out their race as soon as possible, in most for the fact they realised the possibility of rain arriving, but also for there love and immense enjoyment of the sport.
During my previous race for wing, I attained 4 th place which made me the lowest qualifier for the regional race in my wing. My thoughts were, due to this, that I would finish somewhere in the last six at best. But I had been training hard and I was motivated and determined to do my very best.
We had our team discussion and discovered the course we were running at 09:00. The course differed from my wing race slightly as part of that course was missed out; it was subsequently replaced by a ‘short cut' through the woods, which was not a picnic at that.
The junior girls went first and this really filled the air with the race spirit. It was a well ran battle by all, apart from some mild elbow support in the tunnel on the finish line. The junior boys were next and again ran a fast race, as was shown in the enjoyment in the faces of the competitors, once they realised the run was over. After this the senior girls ran there race. Unfortunately these were the first to experience the real spirit of cross country as the rain began to fall. The senior boys were up next, and the speed of the race increased seemingly with the more trained experienced runners. During this the shower of rain became a deluge of water which even caught the eye of the senior runners. As the junior women set off the small storm deteriorated into a light shower becoming clear skies. This was a fast race with many keen runners ATC and civilian club alike.
It finally came to my race, the junior men's. I had warmed up my body with stretches, shuttles, lucozade and a small mars bar, I was ready. I stripped down into my shorts and vest, no thermo layer underneath my vest, I was a real man. The rain made a return just in time for the start of the race; during which time the marshals decided to explain the course one more time. Once they had finished, and we were cold to the core, the race began.
The race was over and I was happy with my result, ninth place out of thirty two. My lose prediction of coming in the bottom six was smashed. Out of the four who had represented my region, whom of which I had come fourth in our last meeting, I had achieved second place which I felt was an excellent achievement. Out of the ATC in the race, I had achieved sixth place in the race, with only the three club runners lowering my placing to ninth.
After about fifteen minutes, the entire field of competitors assembled in the pavilion for the award ceremony. For my region, we won first place in the junior girl's team, first place in the junior boy's team, third place for the senior boy's team, second place for the senior girl's team, fifth place for the junior women's team and a respectable second place in the junior men's team.
The final exclusive ATC award was for best performed region. This was the big one, the one we all wanted, for some other reason then proving we were better then every other region in the United Kingdom. Central and East region of course came first; our job was done, we had finished what we had started and it was about time for a long bath and some well deserved dinner.