Careful what you wish for…
Not long ago(well I say not long ago but it is actually quite a while ago because it has taken quite a while to get round to doing this)! I was blogging about how dry the xc season had been, I even had a tinge of disappointment over the lack of mud. Well, they say ‘be careful what you wish for’…
As well as the West Yorkshire league races, the Yorkshire XC at Lightwater Valley in January was also relatively dry, particularly compared to last year when I couldn’t feel my feet by the end of the race (a good job really as I’d been spiked ripping my shoe and injuring my foot). But things were about to change…
Finally a cross country with lots of MUD!!!
A very early start to the day is always horrible, especially when you’re not racing until 1:20 but you have to be at spring hall by 8 for the coach.
After about 2h on the coach we arrived at Knowsley and I put all my layers on but they kept us back in the coach for about 15mins so I began to boil but I didn’t want to take any layers off as a thought we would be going out soon.
Having learnt a valuable lesson at the Northern XC at Blackburn last year, I made sure to stay warm and dry wrapped in my many layers of clothing – (Last year was bitterly cold with driving horizontal hail and biting winds. As I waited around for my race I’d become colder and colder until I was sat shivering curled up. Luckily my dad saved me from likely hypothermia by dragging me off to the car to try to warm me up.) So, maybe I’d gone overboard with base layer, Tshirt, sweatshirt, down jacket AND a waterproof, plus hat, gloves, scarf … (just joking but you get the point). I was taking no chances but soon began to boil as I waited to get off the coach.
Eventually we got off the coach and walked to the start area. I was pleased to see that the tents were close to the start line; I don’t really know why I like this, probably because you don’t have to move around allot to watch races and go to your race.
After walking the course it didn’t seem muddy AT THAT POINT. Possibly because we didn’t walk the muddiest bit.
I watched my sister run and it still didn’t look too muddy but she appeared to be making an art out of running slowly; little did I realise that the mud meant she couldn’t help it! As more and more people ran it became muddier and muddier. By now the area where the tents were set up was becoming a mud bath.
I got ready and warmed up by doing drills and having a short jog and was already on the start line when they called the u15 boys. Despite there being no starting pens I got a decent position in the middle. I noticed that the top runners were down at the bottom end so they would be able to cut through if they had the pace. The problem with that is you have to get a fast start or else you end up getting cut off. We weren’t held for too long and the gun went off.
I got a decent start but mud was already splattering up my legs and face and clogging up my spikes. After the starting straight we started the main part of the course- the big bottom lap. It was a slight downhill but it was very very muddy and was hard to keep a good stride- I was slipping all over the place as I’m sure everybody else was. Thick heavy energy-sapping clay-mud stuck to my spikes so I felt like I was running in a pair of mud clogs, making every step I took take the effort of 50.
When we did our recce I was happy to find out that it was 1 big lap but as we missed some of it I didn’t realise how big it was going to be and underestimated how big the ‘big’ lap actually was. It was still muddy as we bent around the cause to come back up from the big loop. We followed the path round-more mud! The u15 boys were the 1st to go on the extra loop so that was comparatively dry. After that it was about a 200m sprint into the finish.
Mud has its advantages and disadvantages for us small folk: people say we can ‘glide across mud’; but we can’t because our feet are sliding everywhere, it’s very difficult to get into a good stride and thick mud like this drains away your energy. I found it a very tough course.
You know you’ve taken part in a proper XC if you get a “you’re not getting in my car with all that mud on” from your mum or dad and it takes hours to sort you out to a clean enough state to be allowed anywhere near the car and another few hours to sort out all the muddy gear when you get home- thanks mum and dad!
Nationals- more mud!!
The say Eskimos have different names for different types of snow, well I think cross country runners could say the same about mud!
The words ‘quagmire, swamp and mud soup’ spring to mind when I think about the national cross country race at Wollaton in Nottingham. The mud came as a surprise really as I ran at the same place last year for the English Schools XC and it had been very firm and dry. Not this time. It wasn’t muddy all the way around but the muddy sections , more like huge bogs we had to run through.
Where the mud at the Northerns was of an ultra-sticky clay variety this was of a different quality, it was watery and would splash all over you.
You can tell from looking at the pictures that we’d all had to wade through mud- check out the mud patterns and tide lines, we look like we’re wearing knee-high mud socks!
The u15 boys was the second race so I didn’t have very long to hang around. Which is a good thing as I didn’t have to be worrying about my race all day like last year. On the other hand it can be quite a rush after walking the course to get back and sorted. Once I got back to the gazebo I did the usual preparation and was waiting for my dad to get back from watching my sisters race to tie my laces (yes I can tie my laces but If they come undone I can blame someone else). We got to the gate where we were going to be let in to the tent before our race. After waiting in the tent for about 5 mins we were let out onto the start line. Our pen number wasn’t the best but it could have been worse.
I didn’t hear the gun go off at the start as the line was so long and I got a terrible start. As Starts are key especially in big races like this so I was a bit frustrated and it affected my whole race. I wanted to get higher up as the 1st corner would be carnage if I didn’t. I tried my best to but I had lost so many places at the start. After turning the 1st corner it was a downhill back down to next to the finish and we looped back round.
The mud bath was so fun to run through. My dad told me to run nearest to the wall as it wasn’t deep. After going through the mud bath it was a long slope up to the hall and then back down where there were a few more things to jump over! There was another mud bath to run through towards the end which is were I mostly got muddy because I jumped in! After this it was a 300m sprint finish and into the finish line.
A disappointing run as I came 29th in the Nationals last time and only just got in the top half but you can’t always have a good run…right? `
We all had the satisfaction of knowing, and more importantly having the evidence to prove, that we had taken part in a proper cross country race.