Did I mention that it’s cross country (xc) season? Well to be honest it’s almost the end of the xc season – so what better time than to start blogging about it?
Today’s race report was written by the super John K about Tadley xc – which took place on Sunday 24 January 2016. John has some very wise words of advice for us all!
Always make sure that you have tied your shoes nice and tight before embarking on a cross country event!..
This advice was given to me, for free, before we set off on the Tadley XC race. It was handed out for all to hear, but landed on deaf ears in my case. I had time to act on this sage piece of invaluable wisdom given freely by a fellow athlete, who had not only run the event before, but is a runner that most of us look up to as a font of running lore!..
Did I bother to act on this one nugget of pure gold I hear you ask?.. No, I did not.
So to the race itself. We all assembled at the start line and there was the usual banter between club runners, much merriment before the off and I even got a decent signal on my Garmin and, with the wise words from the organiser still ringing in our ears, “the muddy bits from last year are even muddier and the water meadow is… wet!”, we were on our way. Across the field and the first downhill of the day, through muddy and sloshy puddles and slippery tracks.
All was going well, I was feeling quite worn out and breathing hard (standard stuff) over taking some runners, being over taken by others in turn and mainly looking for the best footing through some really, treacherous stretches of mud, sucking at my shoes, trying to make them part company from my ever-curling toes in a vain effort to hold on to them for as long as possible. On one particularly gloopy and squelchy stretch, just around a bend with a marshal (God bless them) advising runners to go around the ‘bog’, for want of a better word, the poor, hapless runner in front of me lost his shoe in the awful, sticky mess that we both decided to run through, the shorter way. I, as a concerned human being spotted this and was just on the cusp of laughing and finger pointing, when a fraction of a second later, the very same thing happened to me!
With my pride dented more than a big, dented thing I had to back track a few meters and grab my poor, forlorn looking shoe from out of thick, gloopy mess and soldier on. Giggling to myself at my misfortune I soon had to remove my sock too as it was trying to run away all by itself and rammed it into my muddy running footwear and, to save time trying to put them on in the middle of a bog, decided to run barefoot. This was something I had never tried before and found it quite refreshing as we were still going through swathes of mud and stretches of grass, so was a bit of fun too.
Running along now, I knew that any thoughts of setting a good time, or getting a good position had now, truly disappeared for me, but found that I was still running well and felt quite accomplished. In my mind I was one of those Ancient Greek warriors, off on a campaign to fight heroically with my fellow warriors. One of these fellow warriors, as I drew level with him, said ‘I’ve been running for many years and I think that thing in your hand (pointing at the filthy item of footwear in my hand) is supposed to go on your foot!’. Bringing me back down to earth with a hearty laugh from both parties, I began to look out for a sensible place to pull over and so after a while I spied a good place where some more marshals were stood and plonked myself on the grass next to them.
Now, I heartily recommend the use of Walsh running shoes as the grip they afford you is second to none. The laces, however, are a completely different story. How can a lace be so impossible to undo? I have no idea. If it was a simple matter of undoing the lace (so I could get the shoe back on again) get my sock back on, shoe on, lace done up, 20 seconds. Tighten other shoe lace, (for good measure) an extra 10 seconds, so back in the race after a 30 seconds pit stop, happy days, but no! That was not the case… I would have needed a welders torch and finger nails as tough as a bear’s claw to get these suckers undone. What a nightmare! Three whole minutes later (which felt like ten) I was on my way again, this time, fully shod.
During my time in reverie, I now recall being desperate to overtake a certain SJer just so I could utter the words, ‘now you can tell people you were over taken by a barefoot runner!’, so if it was you, Ian Watson, sorry. It was the ramblings of a deranged, Greek warrior! LOL.
The rest of the race I was trying to play catchup, but 3 minutes was too much of a tall order, so just did what I could and, because it was a 2 lap race, I took it fairly easy through the bog the second time, my renewed respect for the conditions coming to the fore. Home now after maybe visiting the local hostilery, kit all clean again, me showered and looking a little more human again, laces? in the bin.
Huge thank you to John K for sharing such a great insight into the race. It really brought a smile to my face on this rather dreary afternoon and I hope it has brought a smile to yours as well. More thanks to Tadley for putting on another well marshalled and mud soaked xc race to rival no other and finally the last instalment of the TVXC 2015/16 season is Sunday 7 Feb 2016 – emails to follow! Nikki