Kevin Edwards gives us his honest feedback on Rossendale Cross Country…
Marl Pits XC was the last fixture of the Red Rose League, after the last 18 months of being plagued with injures and set backs, I was determined this year I would complete a season of cross country races, whatever my level of fitness or injury.
The first 3 had gone without much incidence, yes I had fallen over on them all and turned my ankle, but that’s all part of cross country running, it makes you stronger for the road races in summer.
Well Marl Pits XC has a reputation of being one of the toughest XC courses in the northwest and I was not to be disappointed! Going into the race I knew my injury was far from recovered, but I wasn’t backing out, did a two mile run in the morning to see how it felt and I could put one leg in front of the other so that’s enough for me.
Battling my way through storm Desmond, I made it, always a good start with my navigational skills. Walking to the start I saw Andy Eccles in his car, I had secretly been hoping no one else from Wigan Harriers seniors would turn up to see my exploits, then I saw Tracy, Jane and Shona warming up and Dave Collins.
Me, Dave and Andy made our way back to the changing rooms (yes changing rooms we normally do it alfresco) everybody was joking and smiling in that sort of nervous way that happens before something really bad is coming up.
Warm up done. Off we go two laps round the field in ankle deep mud and water, a bit of water, well it is meant to be a cross country.
Argh first climb near vertical hill covered in mud, don’t walk little steps, keep moving, phew made it, didn’t fall over! Next big obstacle was a muddy decent with no path, a stream at the bottom with a plank over it about 6 inches wide, ok I admit defeat I am walking this one, there is no way mountain rescue are taking me of the course on a stretcher (yes, we had mountain rescue in attendance) ok crack on, next mud covered incline pulling myself up using every available tree within reach, hit the top, swamp, yes the swamp I had heard about the swamp but how hard can it be, very when you ignore the marshal and go left and end up waist deep in mud, pulling yourself out using you hands. We now start the decline back to the start, some were rocky narrow paths, some were slide down on your backside ones, some had ditches at the bottom, but the hardest was a 20 meter mud slide with spectators and cameras at the bottom cheering and waiting for some classic photo opportunities, made it down that one very slowly. Yeh back to the start, two more laps to go.
All this time I was getting passed constantly and getting a little bit dejected, my hamstring wouldn’t let me run and stride properly but come on man up.
Lap two was pretty much the same with me going really slow on inclines and decline, at the swamp I started to get lapped not just by 1 or 2 but it felt like the whole field, I just hoped Dave and Andy didn’t lap me.
Lap three, we are not going to DNF. Now I am right at the back of the field, not many people are passing me now, its just me sludging through the mud with me thanking the marshals, nearly home and a guy runs past me wearing running tights and a big waterproof jacket, the humiliation is complete.
Jane meets me at the finish with my jacket, I smile but inside I am far from happy.
Make my way back the changing rooms where gallows humour is in full flow, Dave and Andy already showered and changed.
Marl Pits is the top of my list for the hardest cross county I have ever run, even tougher than Knowsley in the snow, and you now what, I would do it again (maybe with a injury free hamstring) don’t give up, we will lose the occasional battle but the war continues.
KEVIN 161th out of 175
Congratulations Kev, great write up and excellent commitment to complete the series. Well done to all the Harriers who competed in the Red Rose series this year.