Bedewell Park Race Report

front1Report from the latest cross country race at Bedewell Park courtesy of Darren Smiley.
It was Saturday the 31st January, 9 o’clock and my alarm woke me up. For a minute the realisation didn’t hit me. Why is my alarm set for 9am at a weekend I thought? then it came apparent Cross country weekend. The happiness of ithe weekend soon turned into despair ‘oh no’ I thought (that’s not what I thought but I’d best tone it down).
Now wide awake I jumped out of bed raced to the curtain like it was Christmas morning…perhaps it’ll be sunny and warm I thought. As I drew back the curtain I let out a little sigh, wet, windy and cold, of course it was, what was I thinking It’s January and its cross country weekend!
Breakfast ensued, the token cup of tea, small bowl of cereal and a couple of slices of toast, it was going to be a long day after all.
I’d agreed to pick up Katy, Claire T and Shuanak next to Saltwell Park, after last year’s trouble with parking we decide it would be best to get the metro over. We parked up into Heworth metro where we met up with Gemma B, Dave & Jacqui (it was planned not some sort of fate).
Tickets bought we headed off to the platform, the usual ‘looking forward to this’ was met with glares. To coin a lethal weapon phrase ‘I’m too old for this (blank)’, I thought. As we strolled onto the platform a white pigeon was pecking around, all feet in order, I thought that’s weird especially since its Heworth. ‘Perhaps it’s a sign’ I said to the others, ‘maybe it’s telling me to go home?’
The Metro journey didn’t take too long especially when the conversation descended into how to actually get to Bedenell Park? Despite the midweek organisation none of us actually looked into how to get to the course, yet another sign my head was telling me.
The Doc (Katy) decided that google maps were the way forward and of we went. The walk was no more than 15 minutes, every step taken the fear grew, it almost felt like I didn’t like cross country or something!
As we approached Bedenell the usual racers procedures took over, there was the knowing look no-one had to say anything but we were all thinking the same, toilet. We met up with Peter, Helen and Phil after we left Monkton Stadium and we slowly walked into Bedenell Park with the masses.
As we entered the park one of the junior races was on, everyone commented on how muddy it was, sign number three I thought, my head was telling me to turn back. As we approached the rendezvous point the other Saltwellians were just finishing putting the tent up, perfect timing I muttered under my breath.
‘Nice day for it’ someone said cheerily, it was probably Fred he loves this stuff after all. I looked around and thought is it, is it really. Just when I thought this day couldn’t get any worse then came a bolt from nowhere, the forth sign. ‘Your turn to take the tent home isn’t it’ said Fred. ‘oh poop’ came my reply (nb: not my reply but see above), Kill me now.
The usual standing around complaining of the mud, cold wetness etc ensued and then it was time for the Ladies race. The obligatory Ladies team photo was taken (the boys must be camera shy as we never seem to do one!!) and then they all lined up, Bang they’re off!
Peter, Helen and I tried to find the best vantage point to cheer on the ladies and one by one they passed, getting the customary Hoooops. We were joined by Fred who after wratching through his pocket (the thesaurus doesn’t seem to know wratching – see fumbling) pulled out a Mars bar, from what time period no one knows, he offered a bit to me and Peter, we politely declined. Then the conversation took a twist, at want point I do not know, but it turned into old chocolate bars and ended with Fred giving me and Peter a rendition of the old club biscuit song ‘if you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuits join our club’ or at least that’s the one I remember.
Anyway I digress, by this point the girls were on their last lap, the Queen of Saltwell (Gemma) heading up the pack with Sarah G, Jacqui and Sue Lowes a minute of two behind. At this point I had to leave to get prepared for my race.
Back at the tent the Saltwell men were all getting ready, the initial tippy toeing around in your spikes soon turned into trapesing, after the first puddle of mud rose above your shoe level. The token warm up followed as a group of us ran up and down in order to stay warm and then came the shout 2 minutes, by now it was too late, no turning back I was in it for the full 10k.
Bang, the gun went and the masses set off. The usually barging and jockeying for position started and there was me just thinking arrrggh just get through it man, then reverse logic set in, it’s not a race do your own thing. It’s not a race? What a stupid thought, that’s exactly what it is!! It killed a few steps thinking about that one though.
The first lap went slow there was much overtaking mostly by other people on me. I could see some male Saltwellians slowly getting further and further away, it’s at this point I always look around and think I wish I was where they were, especially when you see someone at the top of the hill.
My next thought is as I’m stating my second lap, and it’s always the same thought whenever I run cross country, is this would be the ladies last lap. A mini wave of depression always follows that one.
I think this may have been the lap that Rob overtook me, he gave me a little pat on the back as he hovered over the mud and said a few words of encouragement. It’s was at that point I thought, I hate you. I don’t actually hate him, it’s just jealousy as he makes it look so effortless but as you’re trudging through the cold, wet and mud and people are a lap ahead of you jealously is easily manifest.
Another lap came and went and finally I was onto the last lap, only 3k to go. As I passed the far end of the course or the Somme as I likened it to it was only then I notice Dave Candlish, not running as I would expect but cheering, there was another person on the hate list. Once again I drifted, I felt like I was back at school, how did he get out of cross country?
Occupied by another thought which accounted for a minute or so I approached the final hill, once more unto the breach, hill done and soon I was heading downhill (metaphorically and literally). The start line passed on my right and the countdown begun only two minutes to go. The two minutes seemed like 5 minutes then the finish straight came into sight.
I could hear the Saltwell cheerleaders on the side and then it came apparent there were three saltwellians all together, you could almost put a blanket over us. Go for it I thought, alas my legs couldn’t do what my head was thinking, I retrospect I wouldn’t have felt right even if I could. I was just happy to get through it.
It was good to see all the men at the finish waiting to congratulate those coming in. It seemed apparent, to me at least I may have been mistaken, that no other club seemed to be doing that and that’s why I believe Saltwell Harriers is the best! Fast or slow we’re all there for each other showing encouragement and shouting everyone in.
By now tired I walked back to the tent, thank God that’s over I thought, home, hot shower, heating on, footy, some nice food and a few drinks. Then I saw Fred, ‘remember your turn for the tent’.
I’m ‘too old for this….’
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