On Saturday 30th October, I made my return to cross country racing.
The first race of the 2020/21 East District Cross Country kicked off at Hawick. Hawick is roughly 2 hours drive south from Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders.
The course is a lap course. 1 small lap and 2 larger laps. I'll come to the details of how the race went in a second.
The weather had been terrible on the run up to Saturday. Flood warnings, road closures and I was in doubt whether the race would go ahead.
Even the night before the race it was chucking it down and really strong winds. In my mind I kind of hoped it would be cancelled. It wasn't.
Saturday morning, it was still raining but by the time I left the house, the rain and stopped, the sky was turning blue and I was actually looking forward to pulling on my cross country shoes and club vest.
I left the house at 11am and started the journey south, with the race starting at 2:20pm I had a sandwich on the way down as I felt I needed to eat something before the race!
When I arrived at 1pm I got parked and went to find the rest of the Senior Male Edinburgh AC team to collect my race number. Race number pinned on to my vest it was time to run the course as a warm up.
I like to run the course as much as possible for cross country. It gives me a chance to see the ups, downs and if there are any obstacles to dodge. This course had all of the above!
Within the first 100m of the course my feet were soaked. The ground was waterlogged from all the rain of the past week.
Before the race I had checked Google Maps to see how hilly the course was, Google gave me the impression that it was a flat course. Google lied! 😂
The first lap is around a horse racing course and it has an uphill section along the back straight. Then we come off the course and it's out in to a larger loop. This loop was pure mud with a mix of river crossings that you couldn't avoid, ankle deep mud pools and generally really soft ground underfoot.
Brutal is all I can say.
It was delayed by 10 mins but before we knew it we were all gathered on the start line. After a short countdown, we were off.
It felt great to be racing again!
The first lap, the short lap, I was running well but my legs felt dead already. The short lap is pretty flat in comparison to the rest of the course and I felt so unfit. Guys who I had hoped to be running with were disappearing in to the distance and I didn't have anything to give.
I was trying to fight the mud, fight the terrain and I wasn't getting anywhere.
The large lap was energy zapping. My feet were sinking ankle deep on every second stride. I was getting passed by a number of runners and this was not where I wanted to be.
I was expecting maybe getting passed towards the end of the race but to be dropping places only around the first big lap was draining. I had nothing to give to catch them.
I was literally holding on for the entire race.
The final 2 climbs ahead and I lost a few more positions and if it had been on the road I would have hoped to hold on to them and I tried but I couldn't find anything. The harder I pushed, the more I sank in to the mud.
With the final stretch in sight I was determined not to lose any more positions and pushed to the line.
After the race I was spent but I loved it. I had mud from my socks all the way up my legs and up my back and a tired smile on my face.
The next race is this Saturday in Lanark - 4km short course cross country! It's going to be all or nothing. 🤣
Published on: 01 November 2021