Northern Cross Country Championships at Witton Park, Blackburn
(The loneliness of the Long Distance Runner)
[Sat 23rd Jan] Some people at Blyth say 'I'm not going all that way just to run seven miles' as if the Northern Cross Country Championships were beneath them. At a damp, murky, foggy Witton Park, just as I started my fourth and last lap I was wondering why I hadn't joined them. Usually at the Championships I gauge my fitness by which lap I'm on when the leaders first pass me, as I was just starting the second short lap and still had that plus two long laps to go I knew I wasn't very fit. Actually the first part of the course was flat but very heavy due to all the recent snow and rain, but this was just a prelude to the 'short lap' which included two very steep hills (think Prudhoe and then add another 20 yards), followed by two long laps (I think the course was designed by Marquis De Sade). Only four senior men had travelled down and Iain Singer was first back, followed by Kevin, Ralph and then me with only about a dozen people behind me. For the senior women, Susie was first back with Helen next. There were Blyth Juniors r in most races with Emma Freeman and Steph Ramsay taking part in the first race and then telling everybody how hard it was. Actually we should have realised how heavy it was when Charlotte couldn't even walk the course without falling down, although she did manage to finish the race without further falls. The under 15 boys finished 20th team with Scott Povey first back, Jake finishing on one shoe, Chris A elbowing some little lad out of the way and Scott G manoeuvring around the course very niftily. The under 13 boys finished 20tth team with Jacob Hall finishing in 61st position, the best by a Blyth runner, while the two Josephs and Steven all finished strongly and covered in mud. We only had one under 1`5 girl and a lack of training caught Rebecca up, but she still finished strongly on the run in.
After the race, it was time to discuss the course, take the tent down and make arrangements for the Nationals at Leeds, which we assured anybody who was listening is an easier course.
Cross Country Championship races tend to be longer and harder than the usual Harrier League and the standard is usually very high, for instance the first boy in the Under 15 North Eastern Championship was only 15th here. But the camaraderie and friendliness amongst the runners from other clubs and from all abilities is gratifying as they support all the runners still on the course.
And for those who think that cross country won't help their training it's worth remembering that Steve Ovett, Seb Coe, Steve Cram, Kelly Holmes etc etc all ran in cross country and the Nationals and it didn't do them any harm.