Richmond Park revisited 2008


The cross country the British CSAA traditionally organizes every two years in Richmond Park, London counts for a number of ‘faithful Dutch returnees’ since the end of the nineties as one of their most favourite running events of the year, favourably as part of a ‘several days London outing’. Prior to this year’s there was for me a ‘rock bottom experience’, as I encountered a 4½ hours delay on Schiphol Airport, due to persistent fog, but luckily it happened on the day before, not on the day of the race…


This year unfortunately only a very small Dutch delegation took part: Wim Kooij who like me was for the fifth time present, and Aldo Looijenga who with three ‘caps’ ranks as well prominently between those who ‘have run in Richmond Park ever’. Wednesday November 5 offered perfect weather and running conditions: dry, a high atmospheric humidity and this year also for me as ‘traditionally last runner in the field’ a row of five deer stood watching in the first of the two laps. With the usual ‘overall’ distance of 10.5 km’s for the men and 7.3 km’s for the women who run also two laps with a short cut halfway. And it is absolutely no ‘punishment whatsoever’ to ‘trot’ this lap twice in such bucolic English countryside with unrivalled beautiful autumn colours; it gives the feeling to be exceptionally privileged! Perhaps the word ‘serene’ describes the all over feeling (‘something in the air’) best… I enjoyed it anyway to the full considering my time at the finish (62mins 41secs)!


We three arrived this year other than at earlier entries for a change really well in time, in spite of the rather long trip from our assembly point (the Tate Modern downstairs restaurant, a must!) via Waterloo Station to Barnes Station, and from there by taxi to the Bank of England Sports Grounds. Here I felt I didn’t eat really enough, but no problem; with 1½ pint of ‘fluid nutrition’ (‘black gold’ – Guinness!) I acquired the strength needed for the race. This necessary ‘contribution’ as expected proved to work out well; somebody back home suggested that next time I should find somebody to post somewhere along the track with a pint of ‘the black stuff’ for ‘extra strength if needed’… Next to this ‘pro-active fluid nutrition’ we had of course ample ‘black vases’ afterwards to make up for lost ‘liquids and minerals’.


In their mutual rivalry Aldo (43mins 43secs) beat Wim (44mins 03secs) narrowly, but the next time it might be just the other way around… On the ‘English side’ not unexpectedly in the women’s race numbers 1 & 2 of the (1st) Anglo-Dutch The Hague cross country won again: Diane Kennedy (29mins 27 secs) and like in The Hague, right on her trail, Liz Stavreski (29mins 49secs).


Running the Richmond Park cross country gets for the ‘frequent (Dutch) competitors’ ever more the hue of as said before ‘the main running-event-of-the-year’ and this not only because of the two stiff climbs almost at the end of the ‘lap-in-the-Park’, but as much because of the real hospitality of our British hosts… This year we were honoured even with a part-of-speech in our mother tongue (well done, Gerry!). And there was of course the by now traditional ‘answer’ with a ‘look back and forth’ to 2008 and 2009 including a referral to the meeting of the Dutch and Scottish football teams at the end of March in the Netherlands to win a ticket for ‘South Africa 2010’. This might well be the ‘secret agenda’ of host Gerry Trainer to come and run again in March 2009 in the The Hague-Wassenaar dunes. Although, I wonder whether he is that confident regarding the outcome of this match...


According to ‘unconfirmed rumours’ - that were later again denied - this might have been the last CSAA cross country in Richmond Park because of excessively increasing prices for the use the Bank of England premises - that for us as well has already become a ‘standing tradition’... If so then I might have had the dubious honour to be the ‘last to have ever finished here’, but we presume until further notice to be here again in November 2010 to wait for the ‘Go!’ 


The ties with our British colleague-runners have with this visit been strengthened again - it seems even likely that some of them will take part in (the major lap, 27.5 km’s) of the Midwintermarathon 2009 and they are very eager (and probably in larger numbers than in 2008) to come to ‘cross country’ again in The Hague in March 2009, expressly two days before the CPC half marathon in The Hague. Some of them want then to join the CPC two days later... With the aid of the ministry of Foreign Affairs surely a good organization can be set up again to turn this anew into a great success!

It is to be hoped anyway that in the 2nd Anglo-Dutch The Hague cross country more ‘quality runners’ at the Dutch side (VROM!) will take up the challenge (Aldo? Jan? Steven? Conrad? Bouke?) and seize just like Vincent van ‘t Anker in 2008 a place on the victory stand...


This all hasn’t prevented Wim and me to plea anew with the CSAA for an autumn cross in Edinburgh in November 2009; if need be we will pull up with the yearly event in Solihull and will enjoy it to the full…


To end with: we were present anew and it was again perfect!



Kind regards, Niek Tetteroo

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