We talk to three mums and sons who have been exploring the muddy joys of the Met League together.
This year we have had more juniors than ever before taking part in cross-country. Some of the parents are using the time the juniors are training to do their own sessions but still need a bit more encouragement before they start racing too. However, some of Serpentine’s younger runners have managed to convince their mums to come and join in the muddy fun. Three families share their cross-country experiences below.
Jodie and Curtis
Our family moved to London from Australia a few months ago and tried to settle in quickly (hit the ground running even!) by becoming Serpies right away. So far Curtis and I have run two Met League Cross Country races. He starts first in the U15 group so he gives me tips about what to expect from the course. I think he enjoys giving me instructions for a change, instead of vice versa. It’s a great equaliser actually; we both get nervous at the start, we both suffer out on the course and ultimately we both enjoy the achievement of finishing, and having a laugh about the hills, water and mud. Curtis says, ‘It’s our thing we do together’, which is lucky because I don’t fancy joining in his other favourite thing – skateboarding.
Elizabeth and Reilly
Reilly and I ran fixture 2 at Welwyn Garden City. This was our first cross-country race for the Serpies and it was definitely bitter-sweet.
Reilly is eight and has been a member for less than three months. He really enjoys the track training with the U11s and has wanted to wear the red and gold since I became a Serpie earlier this year. Once he found out he was able to race at the Met League Reilly was super excited, but he became anxious about running in a crowd so that’s how I ended up running my first fixture. If I can do it so can he!
On the day he did fantastically. Reilly may not have placed but he never gave up not even after the majority of the pack left him behind. I ran around part of the course with Reilly and his friend Joe. My role was mainly to encourage them on as I could see they were both finding it tough, but they kept at it and were determined to finish. I was extremely proud and it was lovely to see the Serpies cheering them both on through the finish.
Disappointingly my race was knocked on the head towards the end of the first lap due to a hamstring pull after a slide on some mud (that’ll teach me not to wear spikes!), but the main thing for me is that Reilly got through his race.
Reilly says ‘It was really hard and I didn’t like the hill but I’m going to get bigger, train harder and do better’. I’ve got to agree with Reilly, I didn’t much like the hill either!
Lynne and Joe
Simon and I returned to London in July after being away for nine years. We had met through the club and been active members from 2001 until 2008. Rejoining Serpentine has been an enjoyable experience; it’s been great to reunite with some of our old running friends.
Even better is the opportunity for our children to become Serpie members too. Just before his ninth birthday, one of our children, Joe, made his cross-country debut at Welwyn Garden City with the juniors. Whilst the hill at the beginning of the course “took his breath away”, a fortnight later at his second event (Hillingdon) Joe said that he found it easier than the Welwyn course, despite having to “run through a cold lake”.
As a parent, it is very appealing to know that you can take part in cross-country on the same day as your children run the junior race. It would be great for more Serpie parents to consider bringing their children to future cross-country events, for an enjoyable and family friendly outing.
There are sessions specifically for Serpie Juniors (8-18 year olds) at Paddington track on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30pm until 7pm. Over the winter, the middle-distance group have been racing in the Met League, with some of the sprinters doing indoor events. In the summer, we have a team for the Middlesex Young Athletes league, and will encourage our older athletes to compete in the Southern Athletics league. If you know anyone over 8 who might be interested in joining us, either to train or race, please get in touch!
Megan Roberts has been a Serpie since 2013 and coaching the juniors section for the last year. She is also too modest to say herself that she beat our Editor in a hard fought race at the Fred Hughes 10