If I say the words Cross Country, what does that mean to you? Does it fill you with enthusiasm for getting outdoors and onto the trails with adventures and stories to tell or does it bring back memories that make you shudder, of freezing cold, grey afternoons at school, often dressed inappropriately in a boxy t-shirt and nylon shorts (or in my case an airtex shirt, games skirt and MASSIVE P.E knickers – just me?)
I have recently moved from the latter to the former and actually now much prefer off-road to on. Yes, there’s all the research that shows that running on trails is better on the body but for me I think it’s better for my mind. Given the choice of fields, hills, I mean undulations, ever-changing views and fresh country-side air over pavements, dodging pedestrians and exhaust fumes filling my lungs…Not to mention the benefits to your core and general fitness and strength in your legs, feet ankles…plus the chance to run through muddy puddles with pure childlike abandon… Can you tell which one I prefer?!
So at the end of last year, I gamely put my name forward for the 3-counties cross-country league with my running club. I managed 4 out of the 5 races and wore shorts for 2 of them, because #shortsclub
I have since categorized them thus…
The Hilly One with the Brook
The Freezing Cold, Sideways Rain and Windy Hilly One
The One That Was Actually OK (although we nearly got caught in some clay pigeon shooting crossfire, at least that’s what I think it was, that or some major event going down)
The Muddy One, actually, make that the MUDDY one, so muddy that all other mud is compared to it – genuinely.
None of them were easy but actually, that was the point. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account of each one – the title kinda says it how it was. Suffice to say I was challenged in each and every one of them but the feeling of finally crossing the finish line and the slight air of smugness that you earn for the rest of the day made each and every one of them worth it. As with any of these events, if you ask me during them if I’m doing any more then it’s a definite no, but as soon as I’m finished then you *might* get me signing up for another, and another…