I work with a chap who is an enthusiastic cross country runner, he’s an annoying bugger; naturally thin, naturally fit and despite being in his fifties he’s still quick. He also does very little training, probably once a week, but he just loves racing, I mean LOVES racing. He particularly, loves racing XC. I’m not sure if it’s the slightly slower pace, the mud or the masochistic suffering, but he bloody loves it. He is the reason why I found myself on a Saturday afternoon in January standing in a municipal park in Milton Keynes, stripped to shorts and running vest waiting to spend the next hour suffering around a muddy, hilly course. The winner would be crowned County Champion but that wasn’t going to be me.
Before I continue, I must let you know that Campbell Park (the venue) and I have some history together. Nothing seedy or sleazy, but in my earlier years as a ‘serious’ mountain biker, I once won an evening series race here. The race sticks in my memory as it was the day before the national championships and nobody decent was racing, leaving me with a simple job to take the win, I returned home victorious and £5 better off.
Back to running, the course was pretty muddy by the time we got our go, juniors and school races had been run on the course all day and it showed. The hills were dry, but everything else (which wasn’t much) was wet, very wet. Despite this, it was a good laugh and I got round in one piece, I think I had a decent run as I finished in front of two others who I would normally expect to beat me. But who knows, 36th place and 50mins of pain!!