Slip sliding away
This year it was wet. Ten minutes before the start only a handful of the 700 or so runners were lined up ready for their 11.3km journey. Most of us were sheltering under tents or up at the club 200 metres away.
I can remember running in worse conditions, such as the time it snowed at the ACT cross country championships, but at least snow is wondrous. There's nothing wonderful about a cold gusty wind and scudding showers. I felt woefully underdressed in shorts and a CR singlet. I'd have to run faster than I wanted in order to keep warm.
After we started I spotted Gronk in CR cap and Striders singlet about 20 metres ahead. I couldn't get through the crowd to say "g'day" and in any case he soon took off into the distance. The third and fourth kilometres are the hard ones, made even more so this year by the slippery clay soil. I walked and jogged these in 7:32 and 7:24. Once up on the ridge of the hill I found myself running sub-5 minute kilometres.
The downhill sections of the course were truly scary. There was a good chance of hitting the deck with every footfall. There were a few lurid skid-marks in the mud which really opened my eyes. Finally I was safely back on the bitumen for the last 2k down to the park. I spotted Gronk next to the finishing chute cheering in the runners. I found out later he'd run an 8 minute PB!
As for myself, it was a 10 minute PW. 60:56 placed me 262nd. Thinking about it a couple of days later, I really did enjoy the run. There's something whimsical about running through kilometres of mud, around puddles as big as small lakes and splashing straight through the little ones. Good fun! It'll be somewhat less than 25 years before I'll be back.