The Southern Area Championships and Round 5 of the Southern series returned once again to Chawton Park Woods near Alton in Hampshire. This time however the had moved to a much improved arena site to the North side of the woods. The venue has recently been announced as the site for the 2010 National Cross Country Championships so there were a few riders keen to check it out, well over 350 in fact.
The course traversed two valleys deep in a mix of ancient beech woods and more recent pine woods. From the arena the course dropped for almost a mile on fast, winding singletrack. The hills are short and steep but are frequent and relentless with some bombholes in between for interest. The heavy rain through July had made the ground very wet leading up the race but on race day the sun came out at last. This made the early morning races wet and muddy but the ground was drying quickly so the races around midday got harder as they went on with the sticky conditions. The afternoon races probably had it best with a nearly dry course with some nice smooth lines appearing.
Jenny Copnall and Adrian Lansley both took impressive wins in the Elite category. Lansley fought off a strong challenge from Lee Williams who recently made it on to the podium at the national champs in Scotland. Carla Haines and Sion O’Boyle took the Expert wins. In the juniors it was Ben Roff taking the win ahead of Max Fileul. The wet ground didn’t keep the kids away, with racing starting with the under 8 years old’s around a specially designed course. The youngest entrant was too young even to have a bike with pedals, although dad might have helped. In the Youth and Juvenile categories the racing was a bit more serious with Harvey Lowe, Harry Smith, Rachel Denham and Gretel Warner taking wins.
Round 6 of the series returns to the stunning Pippingford Estate near East Grinstead. You can get all event info and enter at www.pedalon.co.uk<http://www.pedalon.co.uk/>, using the link in the top right corner.
Here’s SouthernXC’s video coverage of the race: