Mud, mud, glorious mud…

Cross country is fast becoming  my favourite kind of running. It is everything that I love about running rolled up into one deliciously muddy bundle: beautiful locations, team comradery, undulating courses, and routes that force you to lose your inhibitions.

There is something really liberating about running through muddy forests as an an adult. Whilst road running can be fun, I sometimes find that it can be tiresome and repetitive unless I have a particular goal.  Cross country on the hand resists that regimented feeling of road running. The routes vary so much that you can’t compare your times from one race to the next in quite the same way, and they certainly can’t be compared too closely to your road times. Cross country requires a completely different kind of mental engagement too. The ground is constantly changing underfoot – uneven ground, gravel, mud, tree roots, soggy leaves – so you are constantly looking around, getting ready for the next few strides ahead. And the fact that I take part in these events alongside others from my club only adds more enjoyment to the races. Waiting under our club banner for the race starts to be announced, alongside numerous other London clubs adds to the childish fun of cross country. It’s like sports day at secondary school, but without any of the teenage self-consciousness, battling cliques, ronhill tracksters, and terrifying PE teachers…

Yup, I love cross country.

Today I ran in the third Met League fixture in Ruislip. These monthly races have been immaculately organised and a pleasure to take part in. Ruislip declared itself to be a “tough” and “undulating” course on the Met League website, a modest description having now hauled myself around the 6km course through the muddy Copse Wood.

And my time? Well, I’m very pleased myself. 31:16 by my watch (official time pending) – I think I’m getting faster…

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