Wednesday, 5 November 2008

National Cross Country Relays

As we all know from Beijing getting the baton round is the primary requirement. Or in the case of a 4 man cross relay having 4 men ! Looking to build on last years tantalising 5th place when we finished just a couple of seconds outside the medals my Wells City Harriers team were quietly optimistic in the build up to this years race. Frank Tickner was returning to fitness after a stress fracture, big brother Ben was in good early season form and Andy Hennessy and myself had miles in the bank from our autumn marathon exploits. So far so good then the jinx struck as Andy's marathon caught up with him and a dose of achilles tendinitis left him on the treatment table and out of action. And with an injury list to our reserves that would have had 'big Phil' tearing his hair out we had to take the start line with just three runners.

And what a day we had. Ben powered round the first leg to put us right in the thick of the action in 3rd place. My job had always been damage limitation and despite having Andi Jones and Dave Norman breeze past me early on I was able to hand over in 5th. Blowing away the cobwebs Frank was clearly not at his best but was still good enough to take us into the lead and cause the commentators to reach for the stat book in search of previous Wells medal winning exploits. Of which there were none of course. A statistic which will have to remain for another year alas. At least the three of us had a good run out to get our cross country seasons underway. The conditions were a bit wetter than previous years and my Shay XCs did a great job. I'm going to enjoy a winter wearing these.

I'm a big fan of the country. Its great for getting used to frequent changes in rythmn and challenges the muscles in a way that road and track can't do. Looking back the mud was where I had my early successes, from winning my first race as a 9 year old through to my breakthrough race in the 1994 British Universities Championships. And this year the 'National' will be back at its spiritual home at Parliament Hill Fields and even in the slightly emasculated 12k form its still a race to send a shiver down the spine. I plan on being there ! But first up is the Gwent League at Bath this weekend and a return to man to man combat after the relay season. Can't wait.

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