Ex-stream-ely Keen in Hardwick
by Gareth Bird
After a tough and enjoyable Chiltern Cross Country League race at Campbell Park, it was time to head home and get my spikes and club shirt ready for the next day’s event, the Hardwick X-Stream.
The name says it all; Hardwick is a rural village just outside Aylesbury on the A413 Buckingham Road and yes, there are several stream crossings! The event is put on by Bearbrook Running Club and is well managed with a friendly atmosphere.
This is the third consecutive year I have taken part in this event and I’m determined it’s the one that will keep me running until I drop. For me it ticks all the boxes; it’s challenging, makes great use of farm land and water courses, and generates funds for a running club. It also has a great medal in the form of a ‘horse brass’ to mount on leathers that are available on the day. I opted for a six medal holder, so three more years to go until that’s full. The medals vary from year to year, with this year’s being Valentine themed.
After a non planned six o’clock wake up, I stocked up on my usual running fuel of porridge with honey before heading over to Hardwick about one hour before the eleven o’clock race start. After parking in the farmyard it was boots on and over to the village hall to collect my race number and meet a friend from work, who was making his Hardwick X-Stream debut. He’s very competitive and went on to finish just slightly ahead of me, obviously I had already lined up my reasons for this; tired legs from Campbell Park!
Heading down to the gazebo for bag storage I met ‘Team Haylock’ (Adam and Katie), who were out in force as regular Hardwickers. Adam was feeling good after his return from retirement at Campbell Park, and Katie was looking seriously determined. We then spotted another LBAC vest, David Marham, who also finished just ahead of me after we traded places a couple of times.
On the start line I was drawn to join Adam upfront, which meant less elbow bashing through the first field gate. As the lead group headed off I settled into a similar rhythm to the day before at Campbell Park. The first stream crossing always greets me a lot sooner than I’d prefer, straight through and the water levels were OK. I’d forgotten that we then loop back to cross again near the same point, but a bit deeper. Wow! The cold water certainly woke me up! Then it was up the hills and across recently worked land. Yes it’s tough, but what’s the point if it’s not challenging?
After what feels like a never ending hill and a few more stream crossings (one that deep sea divers would relish), the inevitable descent back towards the start was much welcomed. With the farm barns near the start/finish in sight as well as my friend from work (Neil Pasmore – 26th place) and in the interests of damage limitation, I pushed on. Over the finish and proudly taking my medal (27th place), that was it, another Hardwick X-stream race done. Adam reported he had a good run (well done – 9th place) and his torn calf muscle was OK. Katie finished smiling (well done – 14th placed female) and added to her daily mileage by running home, an added well done to her for three runs in one day especially when one is the Hardwick X-Stream. David clearly enjoyed the run as much as the rest of us (well done – 25th place), and has also done this event before.
It would be great to enter an LBAC team next year, most other runners also ran Chiltern League the previous day, so everyone’s in the same situation of dragging their tired legs and feet around the six mile course. If you do enter then try not to spike yourself – I had a close one!
Event info here: https://www.bearbrookrunningclub.co.uk/