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SOAR: Essentials for the Active Lifestyle

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We sent photographer Wendy Huynh to capture the race rituals of SOAR Race Team athlete and GB U23 Pippa Roessler, at the Southern Cross Country Championships, on a frosty, January morning. 

A seasoned cross-country racer, Pippa’s experience and ambition is evident. From the neatly arranged medals pinned to the bedroom wall to the press cuttings, trophies, trainers and running photos which jostle for space alongside the usual paraphernalia of a young woman’s life. 

Pippa moves easily through the morning, neatly laying her kit on the bed, and carefully arranging her hair and makeup. The race takes place in the middle of the day, so she times breakfast to stave off the lunchtime hunger, whilst not being too full to race. Post-race snacks are portioned out and wrapped in foil. Calls are made to establish course conditions; the grapevine says it’s a little boggy in places - size 12 spikes it is.

An idle scroll on the phone or two followed by a foam roll of the legs on her living room floor, then it’s time to go, Pippa wraps up warm and bundles herself into the car.

Arriving at Beckenham Place Park, she quickly locates her club, Aldershot, Farnham and District, amongst the bright flags and colour of Southern England’s running clubs. A walk of the course with friends and a tactical chat with her coach Mick is followed by the hops, skips and strides of warm up.

The consistency and predictability of the morning routine is the perfect counter to the impending drama which is about to unfold. Pippa loves the variety that cross country brings. 

Pippa’s morning has created a calm and relaxed backdrop which allows her energy to be channelled to where it’s needed; the exertion, explosion and split second tactics of competitive racing.

Post race Pippa has spent every last scrap of that energy out on the course. She crouches on the grass breathing deeply, regathers herself and slowly smiles as her team mates join her at the finish.

Photography: Wendy Huynh

Words: Rebecca Taylor & Pippa Roessler