Runners criss-cross Kent countryside in training camp

This year’s Oxford University Cross Country Club Summer Training Camp took place at Carroty Wood adventure centre in Tonbridge, with the beautiful Kent countryside of the surrounding area as a backdrop. With varsity on the horizon, this was the ideal opportunity for the club to prepare for the new season and to integrate the new group of freshers. As well as having bumper attendance, the team were joined by new coach Eric Shirley who spent the five days running sessions, providing navigational support during steady runs, piloting the minibus and generally offering great support — a fantastic start to what will be a very fruitful relationship with the club.

In addition to laying down some good qual- ity early season miles, the team had two inter- val sessions of 8 x 2mins on the Thursday and a ten minute tempo run followed by 12 x 30 secs on Saturday, which settled into a perfect mix of teamwork and competition, a solid foundation for some great training during Michaelmas.

As well as Shirley, the team were lucky enough to have soft tissue therapist Lesley Bryant, whose massages and advice on conditioning and injury prevention will prove invalu- able in the run up to varsity and beyond. The grimaces of some of those newer to massage provided great entertainment in the living area but the ribbing was well received — being more than worth it for the lovely loose feeling the next day.

The camp included a tour of the varsity course from which the team were able to assess where they would be running later in the term. This was followed by Commonwealth 5000m bronze medallist and twice silver medallist in the world cross country Tim Hutchings giving the team a talk. A hugely entertaining and in- spiring character, highlights included stories of self-massage using motor oil and an antipa- thy for rest days.

The final day consisted of a lovely long run from which the team returned to hear of the new marathon world best, before a final ‘sur- prise’ (for some of the more oblivious attend- ees) was revealed: a trip to meet Kelly Holmes at her new local venture, ‘café 1809’. It was an inspiring way to end the week, with an Olym- pic champion, some tasty cakes and the pos- sibility of working with Kelly’s charity in the future.

Ultimately a great success, the camp has left the club with hopes of a bright season ahead.