The weekend of Nov. 26 and 27 was the (postponed) National Cross Championships of the 2021/2022 winter season. In this, 7 VRT athletes competed. Postponed NK means that athletes may compete who last year ran in a category in which they may not compete in the “normal” cross-country races this year. So it can be an advantage or a disadvantage. Either you have older athletes competing or you may compete in a younger category.
On Saturday, Max Hutjens spearheaded the Boys U16. “Deal” was to start hard and try to go with the leading group. The seniors started so fast that Max decided not to go with them and get busted right away, but to run his own race. He did that very well. As the race progressed, Max moved ever so slightly to the front of the field to eventually finish a strong 7th place. With 4 boys from the older category ahead of him, he virtually ran on the podium in his own category. With his place and 9.19 at 2800m, Max was thickly satisfied.
On Sunday, Suze Gipmans was the one to enter the arena first. She did so with the Girls U18. In a strong field, Suze competed with everything she had. After an excellent, steady race, she ran the 3750m in a time of 16.40. This earned her 31st place in this large field.
Then Xenia got to play for the Girls U20. It remained to be seen whether she would be at the start in time. Car trouble left her stranded along the highway. Not an ideal preparation, of course. Fortunately, she arrived just before the start, quickly pinned on the start number, did an extremely short warm-up and happily took off anyway. Although her head was not quite on the race, the start still went fine. Halfway through the race she struggled, but persevered on her well-known willpower to finish well. Not satisfied with the result, Xenia ran the 4300m in 19.30. This earned her a characterful 32nd place finish.
Then Niels Peeters and Jarno Albers started at the Boys U20. This field was enormously strong, both broadly and at the top. Spectacle was guaranteed! Niels had stuck with qualifying for the European Cross Championships. A bar that was set very high, but impossible it was not. The workouts went well and Niels felt better and stronger than ever. In the fast start, Niels went along well and nestled shortly behind the (international) leading group. Was it the pressure Niels had put on himself? Was the field even stronger than expected after all? Was it just not the day it was supposed to be? The fact is that Niels just couldn’t keep up with the pace in the1st half of the game. Then he did what he never did before, he stepped out. A hefty blow for Niels. Now recharge and continue to pick up the workouts to continue the strong upward trend of last summer and first winter months.
Jarno ran an excellent race. The start was relatively quiet considering the violence of those in front, but Jarno is not a fast starter either. He likes to build the races more slowly. That is also his strength. At a high level, he spun the yards out from under his feet. Picked up several more runners along the way and kept up the pace. Still, on the last lap, the pace sank slightly, where normally there is still some room. Jarno finished the 6200m in 20.26 to take 27th place. A prime spot in this field. But above all, the fact that he ran this distance 44 seconds faster than last year pleased Jarno.
Finally, brothers Jesse and Noah Holten ran the short cross in the seniors. That this race over 2400m would be an explosion of speed was obvious beforehand. What a strong field was at the start here! When you pretty much sprint away at the start and run after a 300m in spot 36/37 you know how hard it is. Both continued to give everything and squeeze the maximum out of their bodies to keep up with this violence. After the dust clouds had settled, Noah appeared to have finished 29th in 6.52. Jesse earned a strong 33rd place finish in 6.58.
Sprinting to the next one!