Even before leaving the Midlands Big Tim Price, Young Joe Read, Pasty Pete Grime and the Chairman knew they had a challenging afternoon ahead of them at the National Cross Country Championships.
Max’s tweet at 10am from the course provided a clue to what lay ahead….
By the time the Senior Men were ready for the off at 3pm the double 6k loop course resembled more of a swamp than English fields.
What a fantastic course though. The iconic start up Parliament Hill, ups and down all the way, muddy ditches, woodlands and lots of technical turns all on ground that was difficult to walk on let alone run over!
Over 2,000 lined up ready for the gun and the charge up Parliament Hill. We are called forward. Silence descends. Then BANG….we’re off!
It’s all a little hectic, but fair. As the course narrows towards the top of the Hill the pace drops as the field funnels over the top. My legs are already burning!
A slippery downhill follows then a tight left turn with the ground falling away catches a few out and I see the first of many fallers go down!
Up hill in thick, energy sapping mud, through a copse then back down, another tight turn, another hill, more quagmire, two ditches….and the first mile hasn’t even passed yet.
We emerge from the woods and back out into the fields. At last some good ground and the pace quickens….only to drop again as we descend back down into the thick brown stuff.
Second time around the ground is even worse. As legs tire, more and more guys are losing their footing and falling. None more so than our very own Pasty Pete G who I learn later went down three times!
The hills of the first half of the lap are incredibly tough on Lap 2 and the firmer ground of the woods is an absolute joy.
Back out onto the fields and I pass Young Joe going the other way. He’s looking good for a strong finish.
A mile to go and the battle for the line is on. We are heading generally down hill so despite the heavy ground, the pace is high. On a tight turn another guy falls face first right in front of me. The momentum carries him a further 10 metres down hill on his belly!
Through the last ditch, down hill at ridiculous speeds on ground desperate to suck the final semblance of life from weary legs. The turn to the finish. 200 metres to go. Try to pick up speed, don’t get overtaken, keep pushing through the line…..
Made it! Thank the Lord that is over!! Until next year…..
For the record : Distance 12k. Runners 2005.
285th Joe Read 46:38
453rd Tim Price 48:44
531st Pete Grime 49:44
662nd Richard Dixon 51:10