Running for Wales at the British and Irish Cross country International is a great honour, however, I did wonder what I had let myself in for this year. The venue for the day was Bellahouston Park, Glasgow. Urban parks can be tame offerings especially, when compared to Hereford league x-country courses but, on this occasion, on this day, with the conditions we had, I think not.
The rain in Scotland had been falling all Summer, Autumn and now Winter. The park was seeping and the hilly course comprised various mud depths through which to scamper. There were also two hills to climb each lap (two lapped course) followed by off camber sections, in fact, nothing resembling easy running.
The course was being marked out as we all arrived for the event. The winds were so fierce the marshals were pinning the tape to the ground. The day began wet and became increasingly wetter as the race time got nearer, there was no shelter to be found while waiting and only one small battered tent in the start area existed for the poor officials.
With minutes to go before the start we reluctantly took off the layers to reveal our Welsh colours and lined up for the start with the wind, rain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and England then, listened for the gun. Only those near by heard it, so it became a startled dash. The first 100m seemed ok but, after that I began to realise every footstep sank into ankle deep mud. The good thing, it wasn’t like Mervyn’s mud at Monkhall no, this was Scottish mud, more peaty and easier to shake off and for the remainder of 6km course it was a chance to experience various depths of the stuff while trying to ensure you were not losing ground to the opposition because it seemed impossible to gain ground.
I don’t think I ran well. I finished 3 rd in my team (which scores) and, overall we were out of the medals coming fourth. For me, it had felt like a test of an ability to mud surf down the hills, stay upright off camber and then keep going for the whole course in a gale force wind, trying to race was almost secondary but, maybe that’s actually the true nature of cross country.
1st Claire Martin (V35) England 21.42, 2nd Caroline Betmead (V40) England 21.51, 3rd Lesley Chisholm (V35) Scotland 22.02. // Welsh V45:- 46th Celia White 25.19, 53rd Emma Collins 25.44, 58th Sue Davies 25.52, 81st Jenny Phillips 27.42.