Trailing the adventures of an ultra-marathon runner; Sheffield & the Peak District National Park, UK

YVCC – 2018

Whilst at the other side of the world I got tagged in a post asking if I could make up the team for the Yorkshire VETs Cross Country in West Yorkshire. I just about still exist despite being at the other side of the world and not having been down at the club for kiwi years.  People had decided I like mud anyway so was a prime victim to be tagged for the event, else they were desperate given getting out of bed for 3 miles is like asking me to eat slugs. Where did they get the idea I liked mud from? Especially as I hadn’t yet run the Tarawera Ultra which consisted of 20 or so miles of pure mud pure New Zealand style. I must like mud then.

So fast forward a month later. Thee ‘Beast from the East’ had arrived and created all sorts of chaos in the UK. With races being cancelled left right and centre was there little chance of this race still taking place? Apparently yes, its cross country, expect no less.

If it’s too cold for a run you’re obviously not from Yorkshire

So 10 am Sunday morning I got picked up by fellow running club colleagues. It was still snowing, the side roads were not passable and temperatures were around zero degrees – somewhat tropical after the -5 degrees we’d had the previous few days.

I was wrapped up in two pairs of trousers, 3 buffs and the rest of my wardrobe to make that trip up to West Yorkshire. Along with a huge flask and some homemade flapjack, they are the ingredients for a perfect Cross Country. It was a long way to go just for 5km and I was moaning that I would rather be running 20 miles in the Peak district than 3 miles around a field. But deep down I knew I was still in recovery mode from my Ultra a few weeks before and shouldn’t be running 20 miles anyway. But I was still questioning what I was doing out here on a day like this.

If we run in the snow we feel crazy, if we run on a treadmill we go crazy, either way we are nuts

We arrived to quite an empty car park and met up with fellow club members including Claire and Jenny who would make up the other 2/3rds of the VET’s team. I felt old by the side of these guys who had only just turned the right side of a VET age.

We checked out the course doing a 3/4 of a mile warm up. The air didn’t feel too cold regardless of what the temperature said outside. I took off my gloves and just had my long sleeved club top on with long trousers. Some had just shorts and vests but I was far too wussy for that, even though I am a Yorkshire lass. I had no exceptions for this race, I just wanted to do well for the team.  Before we could shout ‘snowflake’ we were all lined up. 3 laps keeping the tape to the left nice and simple.  And then we were off.

It was the usual cross country battle to start off with, fast and messy. The twisty course meant that people soon slowed down. However I had a herd of runners zoom past me immediately as always as I tend to start a little to slow. That was fine, I had no idea where my heart was and how it was pumping. My feet were crunching beneath the snow covered course, and my little hand were beginning to feel the cold air penetrating right to the ends of my fingers.

The course was ‘undulatingly flat’ so a few little minor bumps here and there. Nothing to get me too excited about regarding hillage and elevation but enough to have a bit of fun and chase those infront of me especially on the last lap.

Despite being 3 laps it never felt like it was too ‘lappy’. The course did weave its self round a few times so runners could be seen at all points. Even on the second lap the course was beginning to get churned up somewhat as the white fresh snow turned into a muddy sludge of slopping slime.  But I was still having fun and was beginning to get stronger as my body got used this ‘faster’ sort of running.

How deep is the mud? How cold is the snow? Depends on who you ask. we all go through the same stuff differently

There were about 6 girls between myself and Claire. At this point Jenny had shot off and probably finished by now (placing well into the top 10). All I could think about was ‘team, team team’. I was going chase down these 6 runners infront of me just in case they were battling for the same team position as we were. A mix of Yorkshire teams were huddled together including what looked like Kimberworth Striders (Claire’s old club), so I had a bit of work to do.

In all my stride I started knocking them off one by one normally on the uphill bits, being able to keep my stride on the tops and float down the muddy crunchy downhills.

Fight the good, fight the finish, keep the faith – 2 Timothy 4:7

I was closing the gap on Claire, and just before the final bend into the finish I used as much power as I could to catch her up to float in 1 second behind and help bring home a Silver medal for the team. Boom.

Teamwork makes the dream work

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