I managed to haul my weary carcass down to Hartlepool yesterday for the North East Cross Country Championships. It was cold, but most of the recent frost had thawed leaving the hilly course around Summerhill Country Park a boggy quagmire. There were 3 climbs on this 12k, 4 lap circuit for the men and around 350 lined up.
In terms of choice of footwear, I went with my Walshes principally because I've wrecked the daughters salomons and I haven't got any spikes. The rest of them were opting for 15mm spikes - any longer, I thought, and they could run the risk of being transfixed on roots like a cartoon character. I am never very sure what difference footwear makes, but probably quite alot in these circumstances.
I started quite far back and managed to get past around half the field in the first 2 laps. By lap 3 I was beginning to struggle, but unexpected moments of light entertainment such as competitors beside and in front of me careering through the mud or losing control at corners and ploughing through tape partly relieved the drudgery.
My mind was clearly not on the job and I was happy to let a couple of runners pass me. However as we got onto the final lap, having been lapped by the top 3 lads, I suddenly got a shot of backbone and fought all the way round with a Birtley runner who had his eye on my 148th place. I even managed a sprint at the end with a Gateshead runner, so evidently after 12k of mud I hadn't been overdoing it. It must be a mental thing. I enjoyed a good cross country and this was a good cross country so it's a bit of a headscratcher why I was so slow. Back at base the kit demanded the 'heavily soiled' programme and as for the shoes..... bucket job. Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/aspirephotografix/sets/
Results at http://www.necaa.info/