One of the biggest cross country races of the year was fast approaching. National Cross Country Champs. And this time it was being held at Woolaton Park, Nottingham. I knew it would be very muddy but I clearly didn’t anticipate just how muddy it would be, especially due to Storm Dennis and Storm Ciara.
Pre Race Preparation
I made sure to get a few good night’s of sleep prior to National Cross Country Champs and had a good taper going into the race. I felt ready, fueled and simply good.
I didn’t get much time to have a look at the course beforehand, but I knew I had one short and two large laps which would total around 10 km (10.6 km according to most GPS watches). Then the Bedford & County team went off for a 3.2 km jog warm up followed by running drills and some strides. We were pumped and ready.
We positioned ourselves right in the middle of the startline. The gun went off, I had to sidestep a tree, but I went off at what I felt was a good pace without being reckless. I continued to move well through the field until about 2 km in when I lost one of my spikes to the squelching mud. I let the other spike go several metres later instead of fighting with the mud to keep them on my feet.
I was tempted to drop out. The only thing that stopped me from dropping out was the fact that our team only had 4 members and the 4th member was me. In some parts, the mud was such a bog I felt like I was unmoving, but I kept moving. I was not about to start walking.
I was slipping and sliding the whole way. It became so tough for me mentally and when I finally finished (it was a long 8 km after losing both spikes) my calves were cramping from running barefoot most of the way.
I was just so drained mentally from persuading myself to keep fighting forwards through the course.
Once again, Mark Hookway from Tonbridge AC has done a great job of putting race footage on Youtube of the many cross country races that took place on the day!
Our team finished 4th missing out on 3rd by 18 points.
- 22nd – James Minter
- 56th – Harry Brodie
- 64th – Alfred Yabsley
- 122nd – Richard Laursen
Regrettably, I’m very certain I could’ve moved up at least 20 places if I had both spikes on, especially on such a notoriously muddy course. But that’s part of racing. Next time I’ll make sure both spikes are properly tightened. I had those spikes for three cross country seasons and I think this course is a fitting place to leave them behind. Perhaps lost for good in that mud of a bog.
It certainly was extremely tough, so well done to everyone who managed to get through it! And one last thanks to Nottingham AC for helping to set up the cross country course!