This weekend was very muddy. None of the photos do any justice to the amount of mud on the scene at Knowsley Safari Park for the Northern XC Championships!
Saying that, I do love the mud and now in my third season of cross country running, I have to admit that it makes winter time a lot more enjoyable! There’s just something exciting and rewarding about running on uneven terrain in unattractive weather and getting covered in mud!
As this was only my second Northern Champs race and with the venue changing each year, I had never visited the park before. As soon as we arrived, it was clear that we were going to go home very muddy. The club tent area was like a mud bath and my pink trainers quickly turned to brown. After walking around like a lost puppy for a while, I finally found my club tent (City of Sheffield AC) and retrieved my race number!
With only 45 minutes until the start, I called over a friend and we did a warm up around some parts of the course. When it came to the gun, I took the first few hundred metres easy. This always seems to help with my pacing and then allows me to gradually pick people off during the race… instead of seeing others fly past and lose confidence throughout. This tactic worked and I was soon overtaking plenty of women blowing hard after a sprint start.
The course felt like a very long one! I’ve never ran 8+km in a cross country race and after not many long runs in training, I could feel the extra 2km! The senior women’s race consisted of 2 of the long laps of the course. Luckily the finish was a steady downhill and so when the last hill had been reached, I could relax and give everything I had left.
During the finish of the race, I always try and get past at least one more person that I have been chasing for the last part of the course. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t happen and I finished 1 second behind the lady I chased down.
Finishing 50th out of 360 was an acceptable result after a lot of rest recently and not many long runs. After feeling initially very disappointed with my effort, I now realise that I had a good result! Last year I finished 45th out of 358 and so it can be said that I achieved a similar result.
My feelings from this weekend’s race have made me very determined to smash BUCS XC next weekend. It will be held close to home at Graves Park in Sheffield, so with family watching I hope it will spur me on for a good run out!
I will leave you with my post-race photo of some very muddy feet…