I have avoided it for a long time. I have issues, as you may have guessed. Dirt is one of them. Animal poo is definitely right up there. I hate open water. And don’t mention hills.
So why the hell did I enter this?
Because everyone said, ‘it’s a great race’?
No. It was the soup at the end.
We had seen the wettest December in the history of Decembers. This was going to be muddy. And horrendous. As we drove to the Huncote Leisure Centre (it will always be that, it’s where The Bloke took me when we first started seeing each other, don’t ask), it was chucking it down. I wanted to cry.
I went and collected my number. I wanted to cry.
I put off warming up, and eventually went outside. I wanted to cry.
I followed the hoardes of other runners, around one of the football pitches. It was muddy. I wanted to cry.
We then lined up for the start. It was wet and cold, and my shoes were dirty. I wanted to cry.
One of my club-mates, Jane, said we could run together. We could just enjoy the experience, she said it had been her first XC race, and her favourite because there was no pressure. I still wanted to cry.
Once I got going though, I was fine. I just got on with it. It was a shame that I turned over on my ankle in the first km. I actually did have to stop myself from crying. I managed to run it off, and carried on.
To say I was out of my comfort zone was an understatement. At times, the mud went over my ankles. My right shoe wasn’t tied as tightly as I’d have liked, and it felt like it was going to be sucked off. Croft Hill was only ever going to be walked up, but my Adidas Kanadia shoes struggled to stick in the mud. At the top, I felt unsteady, and my fear of falling took over. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck on Croft Hill with a dislocated shoulder; my right shoulder has been dodgy for a few weeks, and I think it’s going to go with the next fall. Jane was amazing at reassuring me, and even took my hand and helped me along the ridge.
Going down the hill was worse. I’m normally at my best running downhill, but it was far too slippy. People were going arse over tit. I did suggest just sliding down on our bottles, and it would’ve been quicker than gingerly inching down. I had visions of my dislocated shoulder stopping me from taking risks.
Eventually, my lack of strength and stamina told, and I was struggling. Jane looked strong, and kept stopping and waiting for me, which was really nice of her. We reached the stream, and I actually just got on with it. My nightmares of fish, and leeches, and Weil’s Disease had gone. I just wanted to finish. If I’m honest, I was actually pleased to see that it had washed the mud from my shoes and legs. But it was fruitless, as the rest of the run went back through the ankle deep mud. Jane’s strength eventually told, and I gave up trying to keep up. I was done.
I finished about 20 minutes slower than my 10k PB. I was closer to my 10 mile PB. I was wet, cold, and muddy.
The soup was nice, though.