Parliament Hill is renowned for being the cross country classic. The brutal course through the hills of Hampstead Heath is one that tests even the most seasoned runners.
With its city of London backdrop, it plays host to some of the greatest races you've never heard of. This includes the National Cross Country Championships and this weekend the South of England Cross Country Championships.
The upper middle class dog walkers and celebrities out for their afternoon walk always observe with interest as race by race, packs of runners churn up the Heath.
Hundreds of tents and flags occupy the face of Parliament Hill, looking like a mini runners glasto, with the frequent bellowing of coaches, urging their athletes to run faster.
Parliament Hill is undoubtedly my favourite cross country race. Until you've ran it, you'll never quite understand it. The 8k of hilly, muddy agony is one of the only races that really makes my heart pound and put my mental toughness to test.
Towards the end of the race on Saturday, I sat in 15th place, satisfied. But upon seeing the Highgate girl a head of me tire, it stirred something in me. In recent races, I've been able to adopt the Alexi Pappas approach of "Run Brave", giving me a strong finish, which has previously been my weak point. I managed to gain a few places to finish 13th, which I am ecstatic over.
Cross Country will always be the bread and butter to my winter. It's always been really important to me and my development as a marathon runner. Cross Country is where it all started and it puts running in its purest of forms. It's you against the elements (plus a few hundred other runners). Not only does it make you mentally strong but it makes you incredibly fit too.
For the life of me, I can't understand why so many athletes sideline cross country. Particularly those who become "too good" for putting on their 15mm spikes and their club vest at the Nationals.
My next aim will be the Nationals next month. In the meantime I am getting into the marathon specifics with some big sessions planned at Dorney Lake (I am always looking for pace makers if anyone wants to help me out).
South of England Cross Country Championship Progression
2018 - You'll see me there.
There’s a simplicity about the nature of racing cross country which gets to the very essence of the sport as it was originally intended.