South Yorkshire XC league #3 – cannon hall mud fest 

“I found I could also be good in cross country. I don’t think my running style has anything to do with it. If you have speed and your body feels good, you can do any distance”

Catherine Ndereba

This would be a race disguised as a run in the middle of a long training session.  The weather being wet for the preceding days and on the morning of the race travel plans changed from a family outing to me asking for a lift on the Sheffield Running club Facebook page. Joe fowler stepped forward with the offer to pick me up at Hillsborough park for the short journey to Cannon hall.  He had requested that I have clean change of clothes for the return as he had picked up his new wheels only 12 hours earlier. Sunday morning came and curious to see what these were it was amusing to see Joe pulling up in the new Japanese built Platts-Fowler team bus.  A state of the art people carrier.   Comfy and spacious comes to mind but enough about the car/van/bus and on to the race.  

Last year this coarse was my first real run after I had been given the go ahead to run properly 6days before. Overweight and unfit I was destroyed on what is an undulating coarse with plenty of mud and boggy terrain in picturesque surroundings. Finishing in 47:55

Arriving with 45min till the Men’s race I went straight out for the agreed 3mile flat Tarmac easy pace around Cawthorne village before returning, strapping on the XC spikes and making my way towards the start.  A few sprint drills and it was time to get muddy.  Keith ‘flat coo-arse’ Binney explained the U20 lads would be doing  2 large and one small lap while the men would be doing 4 long laps.  Could I pass as U20? Err….no I think not.  

A bang of the gun and 300 stampeding pairs of legs were thumping across the field towards the 1st corner and the start of the looooooong climb before it was a slight drop into deep watery slippy muddy before climbing another long ascent past the big stately hall and a left turn for the long descent before Climbing yet again before then again descending to the start.  That was a full lap.  There are certain people I can judge myself off if I am having a good run.  I haven’t been near these in races for a while and they have improved also.  Here I found myself with or not far behind for the first time in ages. So all mentioned are the ones.  Going up the first climb I was just behind Steel city striders Doug Banks fresh from a 17:40 PB performance at Hallam parkrun,  Nick Scott and had strider Steve King behind me, in front was Ben Mahoney, Kimberworths Kevin Doyle and Mark Havenhand of Barnsley ac. Stay near or in sight of these and it would be a good run.  This I did with me, Doug, Nick and for the 1st 3 laps Steve King exchanging places.  I had Richard Mackie & Robin clough of Penistone not too far behind as well. To my surprise I was not only keeping them in sight I was feeling strong and despite only putting in 85% effort competing well.  I could see Ben, Kevin and mark in front and while not catching them I wasn’t losing ground on them either.  

At the end of lap 2 I was enjoying myself that much I was smiling my head off.  The cheers of the spectators was helping this.  Through the 3rd lap I passed Doug for the 1st time,  I kept this for the rest of the lap before he pulled away up the 4th lap but I managed to catch him again.  Coming down from the hall I started to kick to pass him but Mike Levery shouted me to push harder, Doug heard this and pushed too.  Oh well it would come down to the sprint finish then.  Nick, I could hear breathing hard but still there behind trying his hardest not to let me beat him.  Up the final climb I could see Ben, Kevin and mark fighting hard and there was no way I was catching them. Around the last turn and it was downhill to the finish. 500m approx of guts to catch Doug and keep Nick behind.  500m to cap an enjoyable and strong performance. Bearing in mind I had now ran just under 9miles compared to the others I was happy to be in this position. 

300m to go I was that busy concentrating on the shrinking distance between Doug and myself that I stood on a tree root, turning my ankle and knocking me off stride.

  I tried to return to the sprint but I was in pain every time I placed my foot down.  Doug pulled away, Nick passed me but I stayed in front of Steve, Richard and Robin. Still a great run.  My competitive streak as returned and with more energy, less fatigue and less weight I will soon be hitting the times I feel I should be capable of.  This year I ran 40:19

A 2 mile warm down again in the Cawthorne village on a sore ankle to finish.  Gutted that my cake I left in the tent was given away by Mike Levery but I shouldn’t eat it anyway so probably did me a favour.  Some great runs by all the Sheffield running club lasses and lads on a great day of cross country running. 

Anyway Bye For Now 

“If you want to tell something to an athlete, say it quickly and give no alternatives. This is a game of winning and losing. It is senseless to explain and explain”

Paavo Nurmi


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