Birmingham Cross Country League – 10.11.18

  1. Ramblings from the Course by I.M. Muddy

First cross country fixture of the new season always brings an element of the unknown – what length of spikes will I put in, what clothing is required, and what will the weather be like ?

I turned up at Coundon Park to give the Ladies a cheer as they kindly prepared the course for the men. Luckily the ground was still quite firm after the recent rain and in racing
parlance was good with good to soft in places. There was a great turnout from the Ladies so I waited for most of them to pass me by, cheering them on. I then collected my number
from the Massey gazebo. I must remember to keep it for all four races and make sure it does not end up in the washing machine. It also has my name on it which is very helpful if I get lost
and forgetful.

There was a good turnout from the men as they gathered in front of the gazebo like a flock of sheep waiting to be led to the start line for the off. Traditionally we have a pre-race photo.
Unfortunately just as the photo was about to be taken, the heavens opened. As I had blow dried my hair specially for the photo before leaving home, naturally I was not well pleased.
Where to stand at the start is always a quandary as I do not want to get caught up with the fast boys and blow a gasket after the first mile. Better to stand towards the rear and then you can work your way through. The rain continued and thoughts of the GreenLeek 10k came to mind when we stood and froze at the start for ages in the bitterly cold rain. Luckily we were off pretty quickly and the large field of runners began to meander their way around Coundon Park and the rain abated.

I took the first lap steady expecting us to have to go through a small wooded section near to the changing rooms which has lots of tree roots and a nasty bank to climb. Imagine my surprise when the marshall directed us past the opening and round the outside. This was a bonus to me though I did hear afterwards that some people were concerned that the distance was no longer 10.5k . Well whatever the distance in the end, it was far enough for me. Apparently the referee had deemed the section dangerous. I made a mental note to thank the referee.

Having now familiarised myself with the course I decided to work harder in the second lap as a) I did not want Scott Hazell and Dean Clarke lapping me and b) I could see some Massey Runners ahead. There is nothing like a bit of rivalry so off I set in pursuit of Nathan Bignell and Leon Coppola. I managed to pass them early in the lap but I knew they would be chasing me till the end. My eyes then caught sight of Steve Mumford. Now this was a surprise as Steve is normally well in front of me. So, he must be injured or off form. Anyway you have to push on and overtake him and if you beat him you can always remind him over a beer about this race, forgetting about all the other times he has beaten you. Steve and I passed our club marshalls, Martin Glassborow and Sally Slevin who cheered us both on. As I turned round the small wood next in sight was Phil Hayes as we approached the large contingent of vocal support from the Massey Ladies. This really lifted your spirits with their cheering. At this point Phil decided to do a high five with his wife Jo in the crowd. I immediately took advantage of Phil’s distraction to sneak passed him. I will thank Jo.

Unfortunately I could not see any red and white vests in the next group ahead but I kept going. I was taken by surprise near the end of the second lap when a young Centurion runner sped passed me.  Was this the leader ? No. He slowed down and we got passed him early into the last lap. Perhaps he miscounted the number of laps.  The final lap is always the tricky part of the race as you are beginning to tire and you know the Massey guys behind you will chase you down. I managed to hold my position until the last 200 metres.  Despite the shouts of encouragement from Derek Burns and Daniel Connolly the legs would not respond. The finishing line could not come quick enough.  I dragged my weary body back to the Massey gazebo and the welcoming banter of the Massey men and women. So we survived Coundon ready to run in the next League match.