Waking up to the sound of the rain battering my bedroom window on Saturday morning, the last thing I wanted to do was go outside and run around a boggy field for the first time since secondary school. However, having spent the previous Saturday cheering on the Hoops at Hackney Marshes, I reminded myself that it actually looked quite fun, and I needed to put the £10 spikes I’d bought on Vinted to good use. Thanks to Sophie for lending me her spike tool - as a newbie to XC, I didn’t think to ask the Vinted seller if the tool was included…
I arrived at the church hall with my partner Luke (also a member of the club) to stop for the usual pre-race nervous wee, then headed to the start to warm up. As someone who doesn’t enjoy a wet, muddy run - or so I thought - I wasn’t impressed to find water seeping through my spikes before I’d even started warming up. Not long after, the gun went off and the race began. To my relief the course wasn’t as hilly as I was expecting, and the rain held off too. For once, I stuck to my plan of not setting off too quickly so I could gauge what the course was like, and how much more mud the morning’s rain had brought.
While I would describe the course as muddy throughout, my favourite section was the knee-high trough of water at the bottom of some woods.
It was hard work, even with 12mm of extra grip from my spikes, but there was something satisfying about running through what was essentially a cold shallow swimming pool.
I was also relieved that my fear of losing a shoe in the mud didn’t come true. By the final lap, I was grateful that past-me really didn’t set off too quickly because I had enough energy to push at the end.
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did, but it’s one of the few races I’ve completed that I wanted to do all over again as soon as I crossed the finish line. The atmosphere was great and there was a real sense of team spirit that got me around the course.
I never thought I’d be someone who would compete in a cross country race, let alone enjoy it, so if you’re on the fence about signing up, my advice would be to get stuck in (pun intended). I am definitely a cross country convert now, and I can’t wait for the rest of the season!