You know you’ve been cross country running when….


I should have know it would be muddy when my son’s little league football match in the local park was called off. In fact, I must have had a fair idea of what conditions would be like as I decided not to wear my relatively new running shoes and put on an old pair that I’d worn on a muddy 5k Parkrun some weeks ago and hadn’t got around to cleaning.

So with England apparently destined to lose their opening Cricket World Cup match against Australia and my regular running partner being unable to participate in a Parkrun today, I decided to run a regular 5k route of mine along the banks of my local river the Hogsmill.

The first 2k seemed to pass fairly easily. There was the odd shallow puddle that I had to jump over or skirt around but all-in-all it hadn’t been too bad. So when I got to the half-way mark where I usually turn for home I decided to add a little more distance by looping round and crossing to the opposite bank for my return route. This was a big mistake.

On the other side of the river there were no longer shallow puddles that I could nimbly avoid (those who have seen me run will know that the adverb ‘nimbly’ is probably being abused here). On this side of the Hogsmill there were large quagmires that were impossible to run around and had to been waded through. After the initial shock of the cold muddy water flooding into my running shoes and Endomondo (my running software for those who don’t know) thinking I’d paused my run as I slowed down so much, I did mange the first couple without incident. Then the inevitable happened. As I squelched through a particularly deep patch the suction imposed by the mud on my right shoe exceeded the torque of the shoe laces. I found myself standing on the edge of a mini swamp balancing on my left leg and pondering my options.

My immediate assessment, which later on turned out to be accurate, was that I wouldn’t be able to retrieve the stranded shoe without having to put my unguarded right foot into the mud but I resolved to try. After a couple of abortive attempts and surviving the real possibility of tumbling face first into the closest thing Surrey had to quicksand, I gave up and placed my right foot with only a sock for protection into the muddy slime. As quickly as possible and hoping that nobody was filming the incident for ‘You’ve Been Framed’, I replaced the wet soggy running shoe onto a wet soggy foot and resumed my run.

Needless to say, the shallow puddles I had studiously avoided on the route away from home now served as a welcome opportunity to wash off some of the mud that now surrounded both shoes.

Anyway, I sat down to write this blog as an update on my training for a possible London Marathon attempt this year or next and got carried away by the ‘shoe in the mud incident’. I didn’t get a ballot place because the application places had all been taken by the time I logged onto the website (Note to self: Stay up until midnight next year to apply). I have been looking at the various charities that have places but most want me to raise £2k or more something I’m not sure I could do. I have got my training up to half-marathon distance and have entered the Reading Half on 22nd March but unless there are charities who are desperate to get rid of places and will let me have one for ‘as much as I can raise’ then I fear it will be the Virgin London Marathon 2016 for me (as long as I can stay injury free).

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