Manchester League Cross Country Match Three, Snr Men – by James Hinde
We were told to turn back. We were advised not to run. But by now we were settled in the back of Glen’s cab on our way, excited and it was simply too late to turn back wasn’t it? We were confident in our decision, but we weren’t there yet and everyone who was there was leaving.
On arrival we were greeted by the whistling symphony of gale force wind and rain. The mud was deep and in all places. We watched the ladies race for a little, the competitors draped in crusty bog and unidentifiable. In preparation I visited the portaloo, which quite nearly blew over with me sat helplessly inside. We were eventually joined by Darren and Andy who found us huddled in the cab out of the wind. With them, me, Glen, Chris, Mike and John we had a team.
So into our vests and out into the elements for the start of the race. The whistle blew for the start and we thrashed against the bog, trying to stay up-right and out of trouble, mud spattering us from the shoes of those in front. The first short lap was round an uninviting boggy wasteland, relatively straightforward except for a hidden, sharp ditch cruelly inviting you to jump it. I found myself running with John who made a handy windbreak.
The longer lap took us down into what I presume is the hole of Boggart itself. More mud and a difficult camber meant a lot of slipping and a few amusing falls. I watched with hope as John slipped and slid in front of me, but he stayed upright and except for a few occasions in front. A little further back Darren had a fall into the bog, momentarily inconveniencing Chris’s progress. Down we went through a windy trail littered with tree roots. Then up some sharp muddy inclines. Then down a steep bit and up into the crowd and on to the final lap.
The mud was relentless and sapping and the wind brutal. It was all we could do to keep going forward. At one point I hit a small stretch of hard trail and it felt like being carried on the wings of an angel only to be thrown back to the mercy of the bog again. But I was gaining on John now and on a downhill stretch I nudged past. He’d been looking out for me and responded with an unholy sprint up a muddy incline and I was behind again, but not too far back.
At the bit near the end where it drops down then up, then on to the finish, the wise words of Mike an experienced and brilliant runner came to me. He had explained to start our sprint finish before the bottom of the steep incline so as to be into our stride for the final straight. I knew this could be my moment to beat John and I gave it all my heart and soul up that incline with thoughts of glory only to be smacked in the face at the top by an almighty gust of wind, practically ground to a halt, then staggering home behind John, beaten. I’ll get him next time.
We were soon joined by Andy, Chris, Darren, then Glen and we joined up triumphant and with tales of horror. We went to get some warm clothes on knowing Mike would understand. He joined us later having won his age category! As we scraped the mud off our legs by the cab we discussed in animation our glories, tales and what we now deserved to eat and drink later. Boggart Hole is awful at the best of times and at the worst of times it’s just brilliant!
Full results here