It’s taken me three years to get to the Northern Cross Country event. Third year lucky? Third year mucky! Struck with flu or injury in previous years I was just glad to bag a seat on the minibus all the way to knowsley Safari Park in cheshire. Such Fun.
The journey there over the pennines to the dark side made me appreciate my love for off road running. The sun gleamed over the hills as we meanandered our way through to Cheshire, all smiling like cheshire cats.
Once arrived we set up ‘camp’ with the obligatory club tent (I still think this needs to be blue rather than green), battling with the club flag against the wind.
The course was already churned up with mud, a mud bath did not describe it. The weather was also changing, it got dark, it got windy and then it rained. It rained like there was no tomorrow, lashing it down so much we had to hold the tent up inside. Little Matt (under 20) had to go first, out in that. Myself and
fellow club runner Carolyn reminded ourselves that nothing could have been as bad as Thunder Run (TR24 2013) where thunderstorms and lightening dominated most of the event for 50 miles. We can run around a dual lap for 5 miles. Oh yes we can.
The conversations in the tent was focused on spikes spikes and more spikes. How big are your spikes? Mine are bigger than yours? Well mine are newer than yours, just smell that newness of the spikes. Look mine still have the price on them. Well mine are still in the shop – oh yes for I don’t even own any spikes, the nearest I get to owning spikes is a safety pin and I even forgot those. So I dug out my little fell shoes with ample amounts of mud on them from a gorgeously muddy night run a few days previous up Hollins Cross and Lose Hill in the Peak District.
Soon the girls were ready, myself the token oldie, Becky, Carolyn and the ever so smilies Amanda and (somewhat injured) Natalie. A lovely bunch of girls if I must say so myself.And we lined up, looking down most of the girls had spikes. I will not feel left out, I will not let spikes get the better of me, it is not the spikes it is the feet in the mud (not the clouds) that will perform.
And we were off, Becky and Carolyn shot of like lightening, maybe they were afraid of a storm and wanted to just get it over and done with. In usual style I set off cautiously, getting used to the mud churned course and sinking further into the mud glorious mud. Everyone muck in and lets play, I mean run!
Mud up or shut up! – Pinterest
The start was slightly uphill and I let all the ‘fasties’ go fast as I paced myself through the sludge. Each footstep ozzing through my fell shoes. I was happy as a pig in s**t. I had no garmin on, no spikes, trail short, silly not so white compression socks and a very clashing red top and blue and white club vest. Go me, the height of fashion.
I squeltched through the downhill mud and saw carolyn in sight ploughing through the right hand side as I took the left, both of us slipping through the clodded pathlike course.
Keep Calm and take me Mudding – Pinterest
I got into my pace and squetched through the course. I could see superspeedy Becky way in front. I remember seeing Becky on Track last year absolutly flying at a speed session and was well impressed. Focusing I felt myself passing other club runners as I squeltched through even more mud. Hearing some beeps I guessed that was a 1 mile marker – but not having a care in the world I just ran.Encourgement from Mike kept me going with Becky still way ahead but still in sight I had the urge surge on.
If the mud ain’t flying, ya ain’t trying – Pinterest
2 miles in and a hill arose from the mud. Up it went and up I went. Feeling strong I ploughed on. Cheers from the guys watching us spured me on as I began to really feel strong. I passed the start and mudded myself up even more as I hit the second lap. Still passing some of the other girls I was feeling alive and thoroughly enjoying myself.
Mud – the new sweat – Pinterest
Upon the last hill and around 4 miles in I felt myself struggling, I was determind to get up the hill, made worse by being able to see the runners in front come back down at the other side. This was ok, I could do this, just keep on running.
You have to lift your head out of the mud and just do it – Teri Garr
I was at this stage dragging myself through the mud at the top of the hill and back down again I actually found myself overtaking someone who was slip sliding away. Do you have spikes on? I don’t but it ain’t gonna stop me, I won’t get stuck in the mud.
The home stretch was in sight, no one else was by my side and I was too far behind to catch the girl infront but I dug into the mud even further and ploughed through to the finish hearing my name as I crosssed the finish line with a big smile.
I had no idea of time, garmin aside, mud up to my elbows, fell shoes looking like proper fell shoes, and off white socks now looking more like a delicious chocolately brown colour. Ohh I could just eat a Misassppi mud pie.
If you can no longer work out what colour your socks are you have done it right – Teri Garr
A fun race, a real contact with mud included free. Well done to Becky, Carolyn who is coming back to storm the world with endurance madness, Rachel who had a cracking race, Amanda who smiled her way through the mud once again to prove that cross country is pure fun and Natalie who battled through with pure grit despite some serious back injuries. You do what you can with your body and everyone enjoyed and did their best. That’s whats its about.
Position: 87 out of 262