Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cross Country - Blackburn

Well, I ran my first XC race today and it was very hard work but I have to say it was much more fun than running on the road. It was a very well attended meet with lots of very fast club runners around, including lots of very fast children.

I got to Witton Park in what seemed like no time at all so made a mental note to not take the M65 on the way home and zero the trip counter on my car to see how far it was on the A roads on the way home. I didn't think it was sensible to cycle to the first race as I had no idea what to expect but for future races...

I picked up my number and wandered around a bit watching some of the kids run then got readyto do a bit of a warmup myself before my race at 1.20pm. It would be the first time the Walsh's had been worn so I thought I better try them out. The ground was pretty stodgy and I was squirming around on it in my normal shoes but the Walsh's were very grippy and comfortable.

Parts of the course were apparently very boggy so I tightened my shoes up a lot before the race as I didn't fancy losing one of them. I wandered over to the start line with the other Harriers. I knew there would be a fast start and I didn't want to get too carried away by it, if that meant absolutely everyone passed me then so be it.

The race was started with a starter pistol. I think the last time I did anything that was started by a starter pistol was at school (and only because one of our PE teachers was a bit trigger happy) and the thought amused me for a while as everyone sprinted off at warp speed. I tried not to get swept along and kept a hard but sustainable effort level for me. I could still feel the remnants of my cold as well and it was making things a little more difficult for me.

The fist part of the course was mainly flat but the ground conditions were what a horse racing commentator would describe as "Heavy Going", it was quite strength sapping but I had been warned about that.

The course then headed out of the park into a field, I believe this section is called the saucer ? This was a fair climb and was actually my favourite part of the course. I ran it all the first time round, the last section of the climb was very boggy, ankle deep mud but I managed to get a good line through it and not slip. I really enjoyed that bit. Then there was a bit of a downhill section that had been trampled by cows so had lots of hoofprints in it. It was also deep mud and I found myself over my ankles quite a few times. I was glad I had really tightened my shoes up as I could feel the suction of the mud quite a few times.

I made good use of the downhill to get my heart rate down and actually picked a good line through it (all that bog hopping around Great Hill). It was back onto the flat section for another lap. I took it steady on this section to leave something for the climb later.

I didn't manage to run the climb as smoothly the second time round as I had a little slip in the top boggy section which stopped me briefly but I managed to get running again within about a metre so it wasn't that bad. I also didn't quite end up on as good a line on the descent this time either as I seemed to find a lot of very deep mud this time but I still managed to run it all and not slip.

The last flat section to the finish line seemed to take ages! I'm glad the ladies race was only 5.2K, I think that was quite enough for me today - the senior men have to run 10K, ouch!

I waited around a while to watch the men run but had to head off to try to get my phone fixed but it's always interesting watching good runners run, they make it look so effortless!

The Walsh's felt really good to run in, I don't think the Mizuno's would've coped as well on the really gloopy stuff, very slipper like. I am tempted to try them on shorter off road runs now. They are now at least respectably muddy:

I'm not sure of time but I stopped my watch at 31:09 but I'll update with official results later.

I ran the race at an average HR of 177 which is quite high for me I think, even racing (will look at my old race results as it may well be normal). The drive home on the A roads was around 8.5 miles, I always thought Blackburn was really far away, thre will be another XC race here in March next year so I may cycle to that one.


  1. Chorley to Blackburn is really close! I thought that Blackburn was far till I started working there though!

    Well done on the race, looking forward to finding out where you came!

  2. I'm only just realising now how near and far places really are, that's what comes of driving everywhere though, especially on motorways as they are far removed from the towns themselves and in my defence I'm not local (though I have lived round here for 9 years...). Cycling around more has really been an education lately.

  3. I'm the same actually. But moving to Bolton did it for me as I had thought it was so far from Manchester where I lived before! Now I riding a road bike means you can cover some great distances.