Cotswold Classic Report by Kate Welsby

On February 15th, 2020 PC (pre-Covid) me signed up for the Witney Roadrunners 10 mile Cotswold Classic race.

Shortly after that the world went squirrelly, and the 2020 race was rescheduled to 2021. What with a global pandemic, lockdown and homeschooling, running fell by the wayside, only to be picked up in earnest with the return of parkrun in June 2021. It’s fair to say that pre-race, I wasn’t really feeling it.

Cue twenty cheery (and nervous – me) Eynsham Road Runners gathering at Kings School in Witney at 10 am on Saturday 4th September for the rescheduled race, along scenic roads through New Yatt, North Leigh, East End and Wilcote, and encouraged by some of the most enthusiastic marshals I’ve encountered. We had been promised hills and the course doesn’t disappoint, though nothing that a Botley resident can’t handle. Zoe Oliver bravely chose this as her debut race for ERR (to manage expectations, you’re not given a bottle of wine for crossing the finish line at every race, Zoe), with Tom Baker coming an impressive 11th, and cash prizes awarded to Kate Allred (3rd LV50), Graham Bridges (3rd MV50), Kate Williamson (1st LV70+) and Jacky Pinnock (3rd LV60). Kudos also to Marina and Aoife who ran and crossed the finish line together after Aoife battled injury to make it round, and to Adrian Pinnock who not only kept me going through the first 4 ½ miles but finished in the impressive position of 4th MV70+.

As the 291st of 301 runners on the day, I write with authority about the view from the back of a race. The acts of everyday heroism that one sees that far back in the field are always humbling – people working incredibly hard, encouraging those who are struggling, and ultimately celebrating that we have the ability to run that far. In the words of Christopher McDougal, “The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other … but to be with each other.” And now I have another natty long-sleeved top, there really is no reason to not carry on running into the autumn and winter. I’ll see you out there!