Thornley XC – a view from the ladies race.Thornley XC never disappoints – as long as you enjoy running in thick mud, which, seemingly lots of people do. This is the most rural xc country of them all and by far the toughest. Akley Heads is merely the warm up for this. At least the rain had stopped by the race start although the temperature was close to zero and the start/finish area was in a frost hollow, giving some interesting frozen divots in the starting and finishing straights. Shortly after the start, there is a sharp climb to pass the tents area, just to get everyone looking their best for those photos. Then another climb up a stony track, to a wooded area. After a flattish section someone had thoughtfully erected a barrier to jump over, which could be regarded as mildly inconvenient; I swear it got higher on the second lap. After this was a whooshing downhill through the trees, which was great fun and there was a great deal of squealing (not sure if this was the case in the men’s race too??). Then it was off across the muddy fields, punctuated by gateways which had been diligently churned up into muddy lakes, presumably by cows who had sensibly gone somewhere else by this point (more squealing). After another hill (which too seemed much bigger on lap 2), another sweeping descent and round we went again. There were several lost shoes. A runner passed me wearing no shoes whatsoever, but I was uncertain whether this was by accident or a conscious lifestyle choice. The relief on finishing was palpable. I can’t see that there could be much mud left for the men’s race looking at how much was on us, especially on Laura P’s shoes. The challenges of the day were not yet over, however – getting the mud-caked spikes off was a challenge in itself, and then there was getting out the car park. I got out to push Jenny’s car and was helped by a team of men, who pushed it so fast I was left sprinting behind through the mud so I could get back in!Well done to everyone who ran in such tough conditions. Especial shout out to Laura Jardine with her impressive 6th place and to our other counters, Libbie and Ellie, who came through splendidly from fast pack. A creditable 6th place overall for the ladies team. Well done all! It was great fun from start to finish. Club running and xc at its finest.