The Little People

Today I ran in the Yorkshire Cross Country Championships at the Lightwater Valley theme park in North Yorkshire.  This is the first time I have run in a “proper” cross country, which involved, for the Senior Men (AKA Grownups), a gruelling 10K over grass, some mud and a couple of sharp uphill sections on each of 5 laps.  To say that was “hard” would be an understatement and you would have thought a time of about 53 minutes for such a tough 10K would be OK but consider this:  even with that time, I was 304th out of 317 runners.

This was proper athletics.  This was the kind of meeting that chooses athletes to compete at county, national and even international level.  This is the kind of meeting where you might compete against world class athletes.

And here’s the question, does someone like me really belong in such a field?

We recently watched the film “Eddy the Eagle” very loosely based on the experiences of the British ski jumper Eddy Edwards. Running against all these top-class athletes, today I felt a bit like Eddy because for me against these guys, there is no comparison.

But then I remembered a fictitious conversation (in the film) between Eddy and the champion Matti Nykänen, (the “Flying Finn”) in the elevator leading to the top of the 90 meter jump.  Nykänen had payed Eddy a complement who thought he was taking the piss, but he corrected  him saying:

“Do you think I am being patronising?  No, no,
You and me are like 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock.
You see we are closer to each other than the others.
Winning, losing, all that stuff is for the little people.
Men like us, we jump to free our souls.
We are the only two jumpers with a chance to make history today.
If we do less than our best with the whole world watching….
It will kill us inside.  For all time.”

This for me, sums up nicely the difference between so-called elite athletes and the rest of us.  And, that is, very little.  We share the love of the sport and ones willingness to give the best we are capable of.  And, if we do all that, then winning or losing, all that stuff, really is for the little people.

“Rich and poor have this in common:
The Lord is the Maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2 NIV)

The ten year running record

For longer than I have been a member of the Strava app, I have been logging all my runs to a website called I used to have to plug my Garmin watch into my laptop computer and manually upload every run. Today, it all happens in the Cloud; my watch automatically synchs to my phone which sends the data to Garmin Connect. Garmin then sends the data to a number of other services I use to analyse my data.

What I like about Fetch is that is shows your running history (both long term and recent) in a very easy to understand and accessible way.

I can easily view my running history over the last 10 years! As I try and get fit again after a nasty chest cold, I can see from my history what an effect my heart rhythm problems had on my running from about 2012 to 2015.

Even though I have had a few “outages” this year, my end of year mileage total isn’t going to be bad. I am rather hoping I will be able to get a clear run of training now to get Marathon fit for 2020 and 2021.

“He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

‭‭Daniel‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Green Leeks and brown mud!

When the Green Leek run (10K) was described to me it appeared that the start of the race, the first half, was nicely downhill along a disused railway (a greenway), then it would transform itself into a brutal hilly and muddy trail race.  Now the muddy thing I have no issue with because for the last week or so, it’s been chucking it down and the forecast for the day has been doggedly rainy.  From last week’s St Aidan’s Half I am well used to muddy and as far as brutal trail races, bring em on!

The route is not one where you return to the same place you start, but instead the organisers lay on a bus from the car park at the finish to the start (where parking is limited).   But oh noooo, for us, we had a better idea; leave a car at the finish and then drive to the start to park up.  When we finally arrived at the start (after leaving a car at the finish), there was a helpful sign to the car park so we followed it.  The sign led into a field and it was then that we realised this was a mistake, a big mistake, huge!  This so-called “car park” was as I mentioned, a field.  The thing is, after a fortnight of rain, there is a different name they use for a field and that name is: mud bath!   It was soon apparent that most of the cars in the field weren’t going anywhere any time soon and so the drivers (including us) decided just to leave them there and make our way to the start of the race.  The race officials kindly reassured us that after the event there would be help to get our cars out!
As for the race itself, rain was definitely the theme at the start down the greenway and everyone was really glad to get started.  As it “said on the tin”, the first couple of miles were nicely downhill on a good path.  But because I am still trying to shake a cold, I really didn’t feel too good and today I really didn’t have much energy. I made up my mind early on just to plod on and get to the finish in one piece.  Meanwhile, my wife Helen was off like a rocket.
At the end of the greenway, I was very glad that the promised mega hills never materialised.  Maybe it was my misunderstanding but this was NOT a hilly race.  The final 5K was difficult terrain though, particularly due to the mud.  We had a disturbingly bouncy bridge, woodland paths, fields with grass and fields without grass (nice).
I was very glad to reach the end of the 6.5 Mile route (definitely more than 10K at the admission of the organisers) in a smidge over an hour.  There was a nice medal, lots of cake, and a welcome from running legend David Moorcroft who had given up his time to help out.
Now for the fun bit, we had to get back to pick up the Nissan Leaf, now being gradually consumed into the earth from which it originally came!   Arriving back at the field it was still there (and thankfully just above ground), lots of activity with runners helping each other free their cars but of race officials, there was no sign.  In fact there was no one from the race left at the village where it started because they had all gone to the finish, where the action was.  Mark (one of our number who owned the Leaf), was not a happy bunny at all and  Helen managed to get spattered with mud but eventually we got the car out.
Reflecting on the run, I initially was disappointed that I couldn’t do better but as a 58-year-old, I can do a tough trail 10K in an hour so I ought not to complain.  We will probably choose a different race this time next year but, as a positive we can take away, David Moorcroft was brilliant and such a nice man.  It is sobering to think that at the peak of his career, he held the world 5000m record meaning that once,  he ran the fastest 5K that ever had been ran before!
“From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good,
and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him.” Proverbs 12:14