So I promised updates and thought this would be a good place to start. The National Cross Country at Parliament Hill, hailed in the media as the greatest race on the UK running calendar. This year I got out my brand spanking new cross country spikes (possible error number one) to join in the mudbath fun.
There is no other event like the National Cross Country at Parliament Hill, 800 odd women decide to spend their Saturday afternoon running 8km through horrific mud and up and down the hills of Hampstead Heath…for fun and with plenty of competitive spirit thrown in, the feeling when waiting on the start line is a bit like readying yourself for a battle with yourself and the course ahead, looking forward to the feeling of crossing the line having ‘survived’!
Nervous chatter on the start line stopped as we were called to the line, then the gun and we are off, hundreds of women stampeding up the hill from the lido. For those watching this is a bit of an epic sight, I listened out and heard a few cheers for myself and Striders which got me to the top towards the front half of the field, I felt strong and tried to keep with the people around me. Lap one was fairly uneventful, apart from the feeling that my ankles were pretty weak and that I appeared to be stumbling a bit more frequently than others around me, must be the gangly legs, so I thought.
After 3km of running I felt tired but ok, although my seemingly weak ankles started annoying me and the mud was by far the worst I have experienced on that course, makes it more hardcore through right? I’m not a quitter, so I proceeded to stumble my way round the next 5km, unfortunately my ankles were not playing ball and on the worst mud each step became a painful reminder that I had not done any cross country during the season (another smaller oversight in my decision to tackle arguably the toughest XC course in the country). Quite a few muttered curses later, fast forward to 600m to go, down the last hill to the finish, I could see the line… but here is where the ankles got the last laugh (and anyone watching me probably), picture someone with no ankle strength left, shuffling along, leaned over hobbit like, using every ounce of energy to will my muscles to move and keep me going forward and over the thick mud, it was not fun, tens of women streamed past and I could do nothing, but eventually I made it!
After scooping off the mud to remove my chip, I hobbled off to find my boyfriend Tony and see how the other Striders got on, feeling like I had the ankles of an 80 year old and actually contemplating asking for some crutches!
However, despite the pain, Parliament Hill remains epic and barring injury I will be back on the heath next year for the festival of mud. In the end I was 305th, not my best performance, it was still worth the war wounds afterwards though and I certainly earned my celebratory cider(s). I would like to thank the many people who cheered me on round the course, those cheers kept me going and although I’m sorry had no energy to even look at you or acknowledge you in any way, you got me to the end.
Four days of DOMS, an ankle support and some ibruprofen later, I am fixed and it’s back to project Ironman…