This was my second cross country race of the 2019/2020 cross country season and I was looking forward to it. It was the home match for Bedford & County AC so we were looking at bringing along a strong team to win big!

Pre Race Prep

Leading Up To The Race

What I didn’t mention earlier was that I was looking forward to the race up until about Wednesday when I overdid it a bit at the gym when doing some squats. Since I hadn’t done any over Christmas, I felt like my legs just seized up midway through the exercise and from there I couldn’t do any more of the exercises I intended on doing.

My legs didn’t feel much better on Thursday or Friday. To make matters worse on Friday, I ended up feeling ill from about 7 pm and threw up 7 times between 11:30 pm and 4 am on Saturday morning. I was shivering and felt awful.

Yet somehow when I woke up, I thought to myself ‘I think I can race and nothing will go horribly wrong’. My stomach felt very sensitive though so other than drinking a lot of water to try and make up for the water weight I lost whilst throwing up, all I had was a pack of cooked beetroot (500g) prior to my race.

The Course

The course was 10.2 km and consisted of three large laps, each one going down a muddy ditch and through 15m or so of water (with sharks*!) I wasn’t looking forward to running 8 km of the course with wet shoes and feet the whole way.

Luckily it wasn’t raining, but it was very windy.

After a slow warm up around the muddy course, I did some drills and got ready to race.

The Race

The gun went and I imagine I was in 80th place (out of 350 runners). I had little to no expectations due to how I was feeling prior to the race and made sure I didn’t go off too hard. The wind was very strong blowing at 31 kph from the start, but once you got down to one end of the course and ran into the muddy ditch, you would be running against the wind all the way back. This meant that it was always very quick down one way and considerably slower up the other way.

I managed not to fall into the ditch although I did witness a few people in front of me stack or face plant into it (which was certainly amusing for the crowd watching). I kept pushing through slowly within the first lap. Some people overtook me as I worked my way up to packs of runners in front.

The mini ‘lake’ or water feature is always a hard one to judge. You kind of just run through it trying to get your feet above the water and then you have lots of gravel in your spikes the whole way. Once I got out of the water though, it was downhill (slightly) and I always seemed to get a second wind. My wet shoes and feet didn’t seem to bother me so much at all.

Rinse and repeat for three laps of muddy cross country racing!

I ended up finishing 50th which I was very pleased with given how many top-quality runners were competing with Bedford & County AC finishing on top for the senior race and overall.

Race Reflection

I’m thoroughly enjoyed racing even though I was slightly anxious beforehand and I’m optimistic about where my training will take me in the future. Somehow, I felt energised throughout the whole race even when I felt absolutely drained.

My only slight frustration is that there was a group of 10 runners about 10 – 15 seconds ahead of me and if I could’ve been up there with them, I think I would’ve enjoyed the last bit of the race even more with the opportunity to try and sprint against them!

View the results here.

Well done to everyone who raced! And thanks to Barry Cornelius from Oxon Races for taking some great photos!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post I’d appreciate it if you could share it with other runners!

*inflatable sharks