Last weekend saw Secret XC move to Oxleas Woods in what would be the final edition of the year. There will be no more races until further notice. A big thanks must go to Jonathan Tipper and Pete Lighting for putting on such a fantastic event and keeping us racing during such disruptive times. Here’s Jonathan’s race report fromSaturday’s races.
With the enforced cancellation of the proposed Secret XC on the 28th December, Saturday 19th December saw what was to be the last Secret XC event of the year. In the new location of Oxleas Woods, with its microclimate of constant drizzle, steep hills, deep mud and cash-only café, it was clear that this would be the ultimate challenge.
The first race saw the welcome return of Sarah Hanley. Unfortunately, Sarah was so disappointed by the absence of her nemesis James Bowler that she could not bring herself to finish the race. Vic Buck returned following her debut at Beckenham the previous week, coming home in 26.02 and becoming the first and only female competitor to have completed the course, heading off the challenge from John Barron and Bernie Hutchinson in the process. Ian Ellwood, the winner of the inaugural SXC event scrapped home victorious just ahead of Vic in 26:00.
The second race saw newcomers Alex Newton and Toby Gowan duking it out at the front with Alex eventually winning that battle and the race in 21:44. Alex and Toby’s reward for their front running was to be spectators for the fast and furious downhill finish between the other runners, with James Booth closing in 24:30, followed by Paul McCrone in 24:37 and Simon Allen in close attendance in 5th, all finishing within 10 seconds of each other.
The final race of the day saw the return of Rowan Chrichton. Rowan in his now customary style pulled out a substantial lead in the early stages. However, unlike many other weeks, he was able to sustain it, comfortably taking the win in 20:00 exactly. Following him, Jonathan Tipper gave chase, occasionally catching glimpses of Rowan through the trees, he was never close enough to threaten his lead finishing in 20:37. Olly Buck ran strongly in the early stages, but having lost his shoe last week, was once again struck with misfortune. As a junior, Olly was due to complete one lap of the two-lap course but was misdirected onto a second lap before realising the error, consequently missing the finish. Pete Lighting was able to take advantage and with no one close behind him or in front of him, ran a storming finish on the final downhill section, to finish in 21:01. The final man home was Calum Fraser in 22:25, who finds himself the last person to finish the Secret XC in 2020.
Many thanks to all those who have participated. We will hopefully be back in the new year.