LUUCCC are not officially entered in the PECO league this year; however we still have an interest due to one of our members crossing the floor and representing Hyde Park Harriers and other members are able to enter as guests. The PECO league is a friendlier version of the West Yorkshire league and sees clubs from around the local area competing to be crowned the best, with an individual and team competition meaning all participants efforts help.
Race 1- Fitzwilliam Country Park
This race had a low representation with only Joss and me in attendance. My day didn’t get off to a great start as my geography skills let me down and I failed to find Joss’ house. Joss saved the day as she kindly picked me up from the street corner. The race itself was two laps of a very muddy course with two long slopes. According to the Peco league site, spikes were appropriate for this course, they lied, it wasn’t. Luckily for me though I wasn’t such a great cross country pro back then and didn’t own a pair of spikes, so my amateur trainers paid dividends on the long gravel stretch. The course also came with its dangers including a very slippery bridge a gaping trench in another part and mud that was knee deep in places. I started the race off well, which was unfortunately my downfall as within half a lap Joss the pacing queen overtook me and slowly paced her way out into the distance. I carried on regardless as I slowly fell backwards through the field and then literally fell sideways into the field but eventually on to the end in a decent enough time for my first Peco race. Joss was the fourth lady but wasn’t too impressed with her performance as she had got her tactics wrong, and reckoned a third place had been on the cards. I was happy enough with my 73rd position, but then I don’t have a title to defend.
Race 2- Middleton Park
This race took part just before Christmas when most normal students had gone home; I however was hanging around to water my flowers (genuinely true). Joss and I were in attendance and this time we were joined by none other than the main man himself, Mr Tom Powell. As it was nearly Christmas we were treated to Joss’ Christmas CD. Tom was in charge of the DJ decks, and was skipping tracks at his will. When it got to “War is over” by Jon Lennon, Tom and Joss were in agreement to skip the track, I then made the mistake of asking how the song went. Rather than play me the track they treated me to their own rather special rendition (special being the key word). I’d have preferred the original. The race involved some sort of lap with extra bits added on and missing on the second lap, unless you’re at the front this isn’t too much of a problem. Conditions on the day were pretty decent. After the last race I had learnt to take it easy at the start, so I opted for the tactic of sticking with the pacing queen for as long as I could. After sticking with her for the first few kilometres I decided to go it alone and upped my pace a bit, this paid off (sort of). I remained in front of Joss for the rest of the way although she was never far behind and when we entered the final field she was still on my shoulder. With a little encouragement from Joss I then hit it hard and put in a good drive for the finish coming 64th and before Joss. Joss was 5th lady, claiming she’d lost her mojo but was fairly pleased as the gap to the ladies in front was uncatchable. Tom Powell who I’ve neglected to mention, was having his own race up front against a lady, it just so happens his lady goes by the name Hatti Archer (neé Dean), and has competed in several European and World Cross Country championships and even has a few medals from the team competitions. Needless to say Tom was very pleased to have beaten a woman (this is one occasion where beating a woman is acceptable), he came 8th overall.
Race 3- Bramley Fall Park
The usual suspects were now joined again by Tom Powell and newcomer to the Peco league Dan Whittle. Unfortunately Joss’ car had been broken into over the Christmas period and no longer had a sound system or more sadly, PG tips monkeys. This meant that we had a lack of Beatles tunes and had to make do with Tom’s vocal skills. Luckily it was only a short ride away. The race was three laps with two short steep hills. Tom’s arch nemesis, Jack Wood was also in attendance and the bet was placed once again that loser buys the fish and chips. You would have thought after Tom’s last thrashing he would learn not to make such silly bets*. The gang went through their warm up routines ready for the race ahead. Matt and Dan had raced the day before at Parkrun against the advice of Tom Powell. Parkrun is a story in its own right with Matt in a questionable state after Rachel Friend’s birthday celebrations the night before which had become hijacked by Bellew and resulted in a trip to Space (now I’ve been, I appreciate the ironic name). Matt had won this encounter by default due to Dan’s withdrawal but a wins a win. Back at the PECO, the rivalry continued with both padawans sticking to their master Jedi’s (Joss’s) shoulder and let the grand master set the pace. Matt made a move having gained some ground on a hill, but this move was his undoing as he was out of a nitro boost and was quickly overtaken by Joss and Dan who slowly edged away. Meanwhile at the front Tom was having a great race sticking with the leaders for quite a way, and keeping Jack Wood firmly in his place. Tom won out with a 6th place, Jack Wood coming in 12th. Joss beat both of her padawans and was the 4th lady over the line. Not far behind was Dan in 54th and Matt in 68th. The upside of the PECO league is that after every race there is the opportunity for food, this time we were treated to pie and peas or chilli and jacket potato. The journey back was uneventful until the last stretch, when Joss pulled onto the Otley road into a nonexistent gap, the driver behind was not best impressed, but she did avoid “doing a Buswell”.
*this report was written before varsity and BUCS, in retrospect a very good bet on Tom’s part
Race 4- Barnbow Field
As was now standard Joss and Matt were in attendance and our guest for the day was none other than the better half of the Crizzle Bailey comedy duo, Ashley Bailey. Richard Jarram was a no show; presumably abducted by aliens. Joss’ car was still without stereo and shockingly we had to make conversation. For once I’d not been out the night before and so was in a fit enough state to be able to communicate. Much of the conversation was spent working out where we were supposed to be going and despite a minor detour in the city centre and around a housing estate we arrived in plenty of time. Shortly before the start the main man, sporting his rather fetching yellow doss vest, Tom Powell made an appearance. The race started and bad tactics put Matt too far behind the pacing queen. Mud was then the dish of the day and in true PECO fashion the recommend shoe was not appropriate for the course. Spikes would have been a lot more suitable but wouldn’t have given the organisers the amusement of watching people slip over. The race was a rather enjoyable course with a water jump and a trip through the woods (my first fall). Joss was never caught by Matt and so took the score for the series to an uncatchable 3-1. Tom finished but was too ashamed to hand his position in, so because there is no proof to the contrary I’m going to claim that he finished behind me. Ashley Bailey defended his first of the worst title despite the strength of the fiercely competitive imaginary competition. Tom Powell did manage a win but only in terms of most times slipped over, but Joss’s slip and commando role before the race wins the award for most impressive. The journey home was made all the more amusing due to Joss’s philosophical view on driving in Leeds, “all drivers in Leeds are knobs, but that means when I go home I’m the only driver from Leeds so I’m the knob driver”, inspiring stuff there. Although best quote of the day will remain anonymous, “all taxi drivers learn to drive in New Dehli, that’s why they can’t drive properly”. We then had another trip around the city centre due to a road closed in what we call, “doing a Lucy Crookes”.
Race 5- Bodington
This was the final race of the series and it was to be held on our home turf of Bodington courtesy of the Hyde Park Harriers. This race should really be renamed as the battle of the hangovers as it came the day after club dinner and so those participating were not in the best shape. The usual suspects were joined by Dan Whittle on his first major race since injury. The route to be used resembled that of varsity and BUCS and involved all the normal ups and downs with an extra bit through the woods. Bodington had its usual charm of being coated in mud and within the first few minutes I nearly lost my shoe, unlike BUCS, I decided to take the time to put it back on not really feeling like running 5 miles on a sock. On the first lap it was all very close between the three amigos, with Joss being the first to drop off. Joss’ return to drinking form the night before had an unfortunate effect on her running form. Dan and Dave carried on together going past Sarah Marsden who cheered, “come on Dave”, to which she then added “oh and Dan”. In the words of Dan Whittle “charming isn’t it”. The lap carried on with Dan and Dave together; however Dan had slightly more in his tank and slowly edged away. Dave’s tank was full but unfortunately still rather full of ale from the night before. Dan stayed ahead and finished 50th, with Dave behind in 60th. Joss was third over the line out the uni lot and despite her predicament was the 6th lady of the day.
At the conclusion of the league Joss had done just enough to retain her title (sort of). Joss won the senior category however there was a veteran who finished in front of her.