Three Counties, Two Feet, One Questionable Life Choice

The Three Counties Cross Country League (3CXC) is a series of races spanning several months, weaving through fields, mud, and (whisper it) some serious hills. While it caters to runners of all abilities, from serious competitors to friendly joggers like myself, cross country wasn’t something that ever appealed to me in my younger years. Back then, it seemed like torture disguised as fresh air. However, something shifted this year. Maybe it was the itch to try something new, maybe it was the lure of post-race cake or maybe it was a bit of friendly bullying from a lady at my local church! Whatever the reason, I decided to lace up my shoes and give the 3CXC a shot. Who knew that a once-dreaded experience would turn into a season of unexpected challenges, muddy adventures, and a surprising sense of accomplishment?

One thing that surprised me about the 3CXC is how different it was from other cross-country races I’ve come across. Whilst you still had a number of serious runners, there was a huge group all about fun and participation — kind of like a giant, muddy parkrun! Running men and women together added to this more inclusive approach and over the winter months I met lots of great people as we traipsed across Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Northamptonshire together.

The courses themselves were definitely “trails” with a capital T, complete with some killer hills that tested my legs (they can vouch for that!). Thankfully, the weather was kind this season and spared me any of the waterlogged nightmares I’d been dreading. Another highlight? Joining the amazing Northants Tri Club crew. They’re a truly supportive bunch, and even though I’m not exactly breaking speed records, they always make me feel like a valued member of the team.

My goal for the season was simple: show up and give each race a shot. And hey, I actually managed to do it! Don’t get me wrong, there were moments, especially at “The Wall” (a truly brutal hill in the Luton race) where I felt more like a competitor on Gladiators than a casual runner. Sadly, no ropes were provided for that particular climb! But even with those challenges, I can honestly say there were moments of genuine enjoyment too.

The best part? The people! Running can be lonely sometimes, but the 3CXC was all about camaraderie. Finishing each race felt like a team win, not just a personal one. Plus, being part of the Northants Triathlon Club crew made it even more awesome. Let’s not forget the post-race fuel, though! Nothing quite like a mug of tea, a ham roll, and a slice of chocolate cake to bring you back from the dead (or at least, a muddy five-mile-ish trek). Whether you’re huddled in a school hall, a cricket clubhouse, or even a car boot carpark, it’s the perfect way to refuel and share stories with your fellow mud warriors.

So, if you’re thinking about dipping your toes into cross country, or looking for a friendly but competitive league to push your limits, the 3CXC is a total no-brainer. I had a blast, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone up for the challenge! Huge thanks to the organisers of the races – they were all incredibly well-managed and supported. A special shout-out also needs to go to Northants Tri Club’s captain, the legendary Pete DeBoo, and all the amazing team members who joined me on this wild ride. They made the whole experience even more special.

Interested in learning more?

Head over to the official 3CXC website for information on past results, upcoming races, and how to get involved. You can also find individual club websites and social media pages for additional details and support.

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