Cross Country Leagues – Cattle Country Park near Gloucester – Saturday 9 February 2019
Ramblings from the Course by I.M. Muddy
You just knew from the name of the new venue of Cattle Country Park, south of Gloucester, that the course for the final cross country league matches for the men and women was going to be muddy.
After all, cattle like congregating at field gates churning up the mud. And so it was.
The Massey Runners disembarked from the warm comfort of their clean Harry Shaw luxury coach to face the elements not knowing what was about to face them.
The course was 800 metres beyond the buildings and play areas of Cattle Country but as you approached the cattle barns the concrete got muddier and mud mixed with manure. Even the black and white cattle looked at us as they munched their feed as if to say we know what you are about to face. We have been brought inside !
With your trainers covered in mud and manure, we entered the field where the club tents were to be erected. Obviously the Country Park thought that it would be a good idea to introduce these townies to the countryside so the field had been sprayed with a covering of fresh cattle manure which gave off a lovely odour. So, when you sat down to put your spikes on, it was very difficult not to sit on a piece of manure !
The next change was that due to the heavy rain of Friday and overnight, parts of the original course were flooded so the course had to be altered. So, Gloucester AC decided to lengthen the course rather than shorten it !
Our 14 brave MF women set off. The temperature had definitely dropped and rain threatened. I went down to the bottom of a field from where they would turn right under a railway bridge to give them support.
It was decidedly boggy here and soon with 350 pairs of shoes running through it, it became very gluey as a couple of women found out as their spikes were sucked off. The course had several inclines in the fields and so, our ladies were really glad they only had two large laps to do unlike the men with three. Marie Edmunds ran a great race moving through the field to finish an excellent 30th ably supported by Zoe Moore (50th), Jess Rexworthy (71) – just back from Barbados. Her face clearly showed where she would rather have been ! Cathy McKeown completed our scoring four in 103 position just holding off Alanna O’Hare on the line.
With the women having kindly churned up the course for the men, the start was greeted with a quick rain shower. This was going to be challenging. Would I be able not to be lapped by Simon Neale, Dean Clarke, and Scott Hazell ? Could I keep a clean sweep in all 4 races ? On the second large lap I knew I had to work hard. Peter Paprcka was not far in front and I managed to overtake him surprisingly. He blamed his great holiday in Sri Lanka ! Next up, I could see Ian O’Donnell, Rob Kerr, and Dean Semple ahead of me on the other side of the hedge in the next field. It was on the last incline of the lap that the leader from Solihull shot passed me like a whippet. These young lads just glide across the mud whilst I just sink into it. Jealousy ! 3 runners from Gloucester passed me just before I turned for the last lap but I was a spent force despite all the vocal support from our MF ladies willing me on.
Could I stay ahead of Peter ?
On the other side of the railway there was a nasty incline with a stretch of mud at the beginning before you headed down to the bridge. Derek Burns was strategically placed there to shout our runners on. Noticing that I was a tired body and Peter was gaining behind, he shouted both of us on – lift the legs – use the arms. Derek was getting quite excited. As much as he shouted, my body had had enough but we had to find that last effort to keep Peter at bay. It was very tight at the finish.
Again, the ladies had kindly laid on coffee, tea and cakes as I dragged my body to the MF gasebo. It was greatly appreciated.
We then headed back to the bus, through the muddy farm yard and passed the cattle still munching away and looking at us to say – Told you so !
The poor bus driver dished out black sacks as we had to take off our muddy shoes before boarding his clean bus. On the journey back the celebrations began. The men had gained the last promotion spot to Division 2 for next season.
So our very able stewardess, Helen Rowe, served out Prosecco, beer, lager, and cider to all. Helen even had plastic cups. What service !
It was a fitting end to another cross country season.