Splish, splash, splosh. a Yorkshire XC championship story

The start of a World Cross Country event is like riding a horse in the middle of a buffalo stampede. It’s a thrill if you keep up, but one slip and you’re nothing but hoof prints.”
-Ed Eyestone

I know I used that quote in a previous post two weeks ago but it had a huge meaning of the start yesterday at lightwater valley and the Yorkshire XC championship race.  More in a bit about that.  I also previous joked with it being at a amusement park it would be a rollercoaster of a race, this also was true……so

105 days till the 2016 Virgin money London marathon

It’s been a pretty good week with me finishing this morning on 50.2miles for this week since Monday 4th January Inc a 15mile long run that after logging the run on Garmin connect which linked with myfitnesspal left me with 3500cal approx to match my days allowance.  That wasn’t going to happen without me……


I wasn’t going to do that to myself.  I finished with a just over 1000cal deficit. One problem is the knee pain that blighted last year returned a little to remind to do my strength work which I had been neglecting for a few weeks. Tut tut eh?

So onto to the main event,  after doing my hillsborough parkrun run director duties I was picked up in the minibus and the SRCworlddomination party began our journey to North Yorkshire only diverted once by Joe Fowler needing to empty his bladder at the services, well we all did really. I even sneaked in a cheeky Costa Coffee to take away. 

On arriving at lightwater valley I noticed the North Yorkshire wildlife was, shall we say? A little different……



Up through park to the already muddy green next to the conservatory restaurant to set the club tent up,  some of the lads and lasses went to check out the coarse and came back 20 min later talking about a lake.  Now, I can’t remember there being a lake 2yrs ago on the last time I did the YXC  champs.  A little bit of hanging around and the ladies race was off and running.  They’d moved the start a little further back up the coarse since 2014 and there was talk about congestion on the first corner. I cheered on the SRC girls as much as I could while trying to warm up. Stopping for a chat with parkrun national director/Marathontalk presenter Tom Williams.  Eventually it was time to race.  I made my way to the start field still wondering what the talk of congestion was about. 

Into our start pens and waited for the usual pre race brief followed by 1 small & 4 large laps inside the rollercoaster but suddenly bang we were off with loads of surprised chuckles, across the small field and into the first corner where we stopped as 300+ blokes hit a gap big enough for 5 or 6. For the next 20mtr  it was conga line time,


(No Kevin Bacon and if the guy with the eyes was behind me I’d have ran quicker)

you could practically hear Black Lace singing in the background.  Finally we were free and sprinting down a muddy ankle turning field and into a slippery right turn, 300mtr approx of more muddy ankle hating terrain, over the bank and down to find the fore mentioned lake and around it into the first bog from hell as deep as your knees almost in spots.

Along the bottom of the field over a bump and more muddy bogs from Satan’s own backside including the bottom of the steep extremely muddy bank which I noticed before the race was twice as long as my mind wanted to remember it. I had been running with Doug Banks chasing my clubmate Ben Mahoney a few seconds in front up to here and we both hit the hill simultaneously dodging slipping and falling runners, over the top together with Tom Williams shouting “focus”


And back along the start field for the start of the 1st large lap, same as the first lap but instead of turning right through Black lace gap we go left toward the far end of the rollercoaster where waiting with helpful advice was the wise old Sheffield Running club coach Dave Yodafield, (wise, he is) and back towards the black lace gap and down ankle hater field numero uno for large lap 2.  Lap 2 and half of lap 3 was same as lap 1 with just the bogs getting deeper & wetter and the mud getting muddier.

  The 3rd time up the steep bank I slipped jarring my poorly hamstring enough for me to panic, I faulted and Doug shot off into the distance, I tried to keep my focus but could feel a tightness in my hamstring so my pace dropped by  20sec. I pushed on waiting for the hamstring to go all the way through lap 3 and for lap 4. I almost had one of my spikes sucked from my feet by the sticky mud and spent 30mtr wriggling it back on while continuing to run. Into the final lap and it occurred to me the hamstring wasnt going to go and I’d been panicking over nothing. The beauty of this coarse is you can see who’s in front and behind and how far as the coarse twists and turns. 


Ben was 1min 04 in front and Doug 1min 26 checking my garmin.  I picked up the pace and tried to catch them as much as possible.  Approaching the corner leading upto the first bog I was trying to pass a young Holmfirth lad and we went shoulder to shoulder,  I may have given him a little nudge as we turned the corner, he stumbled then fell face first into and under the water. 


Oops!!! I ran on turning only to make sure he was getting up/out to see something like this….


I took the approach to the final time up the steep bank easy but had to stop halfway up to walk before sprinting over the top and around towards the back of the rollercoaster repeating “now run faster” I was full out which showed as I passed 6 runners in front in the final 1/2 mile only to be out sprinted by 2 different guys over the line. 

I had gained on both Ben and Doug but nowhere near enough. 

I finished 150th out of 269 finishers in 47.38. Below shows my gain on Ben & Doug in the last half of a lap.


Anyway Bye for now.   Please donate to my Justgiving page

here in aid of Mind the mental health charity

“Only one person and one person only will determine how good of a runner you become…You will become as good as you let yourself be. That one person is you. “

  – a coach somewhere


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