Suffolk Winter League (Cross Country)

So what is it?

Why should you have a go? Why do I bang on about it and bore you to death from about June?

Many of us probably have some pretty horrible memories of cross country at school. Being made to leg it round some wet and muddy fields in the freezing winter in your non-winter suitable PE kit and plimsolls is not your general idea of fun. Or if you were in a city school like me – you gave it legs until out of sight of the teacher then you popped in the corner shop for some sweets and cigarettes. Whatever your memories I ask you to put them aside and come and give the adult version a go!!

It’s probably wet, probably muddy and definitely fun! So for starters you will be off road. The courses are designed to challenge the runners technically as well as physically. Previous courses I have run (as a complete amateur, steady non-competitive runner) have included logs to jump, ditches, rivers and mud. Lots of mud. So yes – it will be hard, your legs will protest and your ankles will wonder if you’ve lost your mind but at the end the feeling of achievement is truly worth it! Please don’t be intimidated. As with all HRC activities we encourage any age or ability to join in. You will still run the same course and have the same achievement if you are out to beat others or just beat your inner voice that is on the fence about taking part. Most courses are about five miles. Some are one lap, some are multiple.

Here are three reasons to give it a go:

1. It’s fun (yes really!). It’s great to try new things with friends! Times are less important in these races. Due to the terrain you can’t compare your road times to your XC times. You can totally go all out for placings but if that’s not your focus then just get round and enjoy the fresh air. No pressure.

2. Your fitness will improve. Your legs will come out of the XC season stronger and quicker. Your stamina will improve. Your balance and coordination should improve (depending on how clumsy you are!). Your ankle and foot strength will get a good going over. Many people believe off road running is better on your joints and limbs. The logic is sound but the research has been a bit contradictory at times so that’s for you to make your own mind up. I believe I run waaaaay better (not faster – I just enjoy my runs a whole lot more) off road.

3. Variety is the key to a great training plan. We all know to include exercise other than running. But the variation in running type shouldn’t be overlooked. Changes in surface and style contribute to a reduction in overuse injuries.

You don’t need fancy or expensive kit. Trail shoes are pretty much a must if you want to stay upright but probably best to try a little bit of off-road before you commit and buy a shiny new pair (oh but they won’t stay shiny for long!!). There are lots of experienced off-road runners in the club who could recommend a brand or two (I really like Innov8 but have heard good things about many brands). Spikes are not needed unless you want to/like wearing them.

Now I’ve hopefully rambled enough for you to consider giving it a go, here’s a little honest run down of the courses you will find in the Suffolk Winter League:

7th NovemberFramlingham FlyersFramlingham CastleIn and around the castle but now a two lap course designed to reduce congestion – although it tends to be closer to 5.5 miles than 5
5th DecemberWoodbridge ShufflersWoodbridgeA single lap of some lovely parkland. Relatively flat but a bit uppy-downy. There are portions of this course especially at the beginning on hard sand -for horse training. It gets churned up pretty quick which is hard on the legs but makes the grassy sections easier. Wider than Framlingham with some really nice open parts. Great atmosphere.Seniors

19th DecemberHaverhill RCHorseheathNew venue this season – watch this space!
23rd JanuaryStowmarket StridersHaughley ParkThis course is SO MUCH FUN!! Lapped from what I remember. The first section takes you on some narrow twists and turns through the woods. Following on from this are some nice tracks then the fun begins. Back into the woods and in and out of some old bomb holes! Then back towards the direction of the start where you need to negotiate some ditches, logs and some steep climbs. One of my favourites!!
6th FebruarySaint Edmunds PacersPakenham
13th MarchBungay Black DogWoodton

As this is a Suffolk League and we are on the furthest edge of the county some of these venues are a bit of a trek and the races start relatively late (11am or so) but I encourage you to give one or two ago. Certainly going to Framlingham feels like going to the other end of the world. In my mind there is nothing better than sliding through some mud or crunching over leaves and fields with your breath hanging in the air and a cold nose!!

Results from previous years and further race details such as rules can all be found on the SWL pages of the County Association website HERE

Final Results







Notable Results

Anna O’Hare2nd Female Seniors
Sam Boreham2nd Male Seniors
Srikka Love3rd FV65

Full Results are available the Suffolk Winter League Website –

Individual Event Results

7th November 2021Suffolk Winter League – Framlingham – SeniorsSam Boreman30.584 (2nd M20)
Chay Hopkins32.559
Andrew Bell38.2275
Anna O’Hare38.4782
James Minnette39.2990
Trev Bunch40.15102
Vashti MacDonald-Clink44.30168 (3rd FV40)
Simon Wallis46.23206
Mark Phillips46.50215
Dan Everitt47.42229
Chris Brown Hall51.46288
Sil Clay52.25295
Graeme Johnston53.12306
Sirkka Love55.10327 (3FV65)
Stephen Miller56.32339
Hayley Wilson57.05346
Allison Austin57.11348
Grace Judge57.17350
Mary Ann Tuli57.28351
Verona Lewis58.32359
Mont Monteiro60.21372
Suffolk Winter League – Framlingham – SeniorsBen Phillips13.366
Charlie Minnette14.2116
Josh Wigmore14.2718
Tom Phillips16.4338
Kate Russell16.4839 (2nd G15)
Harry Minnette18.2759
Juliet Bigley20.2181
5th DecemberSuffolk Winter League – Woodbridge – SeniorsChay Hopkins00:26:08.17
Anna O’Hare00:29:42.43 (1st F20)
Trev Bunch00:30:15.054
James Minnette00:31:10.070
Mark Phillips00:35:39.3148
Dan Everitt00:39:06.2184
Sirkka Love00:42:45.090 (3rd FV65)
Verona Lewis00:44:50.9100
Suffolk Winter League – Woodbridge – JuniorsCharlie Minnette12.1912
Josh Wigmore12.2113
Harry Minnette15.0743
19th DecemberSuffolk Winter League – Haverhill – SeniorsSam Boreman27.003 (2nd M20)
Chay Hopkins27.597
Anna O’Hare32.153 (1st F20)
James Minnette32.2443
Ben Hopkins32.4550
Andrew Bell33.1657
Mark Phillips37.56118
Terry Pike43.34147
Verona Lewis49.5863
Maria Reed50.2764
Mary Ann Tuli86.0780
Suffolk Winter League – Haverhill – JuniorsBen Phillips12.218
William Butler13.3516
Tom Phillips15.3943
Harry Minnette16.1846
Caitlyn Wishart17.1460
Juliet Bigley15.1463
23rd January 2022Suffolk Winter League – Stowmarket – SeniorsSam Boreman29.273 (1st M20)
Chay Hopkins30.509
Ben Hopkins33.5037
James Minnette35.5261
Mary Ann Tuli44.4740
Robert Haylock46.08173
Dan Everitt46.10174
Sil Clay49.2368
Sirkka Love49.3069 (2nd FV65)
Graeme Johnston50.19192
Grace Judge51.3882
Hayley Wilson55.2799
Suffolk Winter League – Stowmarket – JuniorsJosh Wigmore14.4512
Charlie Minnette15.2518
6th Feb 2022Suffolk Winter League – Bury St. Edmunds – SeniorsSam Boreham28.472 (2nd M20)
Chay Hopkins30.023 (3rd M20)
Anna O’Hare35.366 (3rd F20)
Tony Bacon36.1951
James Minnette36.3054
Dan Everitt44.17111
Toby Wilson-Waterworth44.36112
Mary Ann Tuli46.1337
Andrew Gage46.48128
Graeme Johnston47.03130
Sil Clay47.1543
Grace Judge49.5157
Suffolk Winter League – Bury St. Edmunds – JuniorsJosh Wigmore10.534 (2nd B15)
Charlie Minnette11.578
Thomas Allen13.2019
Harry Minnette13.4024
13th March 2022Suffolk Winter League – Bungay – SeniorsAnna O’Hare31:546
James Minnette34:4761
Mark Phillips40:02110
Sirkka Love44:0662 (3rd FV65)
Verona Lewis48:3981
Suffolk Winter League – Bungay – JuniorsCharlie Minnette13:475 (1st B15)
Harry Minnette16:2017