Winter’s on the way, skimpy singlets are giving way to Smartwool tops and the deep-lugged trail shoes have been de-mudded, ready to be saturated in icy boggy water and then re-mudded. Bring it on!
This weekend signalled the start of the annual Peco cross country series. Five or so short, steep runs in lovely places around Leeds. They are so popular that the start has to be staggered, men then women on this occasion. Personally I’m always staggering, so that’s a bonus. Plus, it’s a real Yorkshire bargain, just £3 to register then a couple of quid per race, followed by free food!
As usual, I’ll be working my way to the back, what with lack of training and recent illness, but I can always train more – and I can shake off viruses and migraines, so improvement is on the way, soonish… In the meantime, any thoughts of any awards are definitely out of the window. Or are they?
There is one prize within my grasp, and I am well-qualified to win it. What with all the rain, puddles and soft ground and slippery-slidey slopes, and my skills in finding mud when no-one else can, I’m betting on me to win the Mudder of the Year. We’re not talking Tough Mudder here, those fun, but expensive assault courses with faux mud, barbed wire and shouty sergeant major types. No, this is the genuine sticky smelly stuff found at any Yorkshire cross country worth its salt.
Competition for this coveted title is fierce, but limited. Very limited in fact as there are just two of us, so I’m guaranteed at least second place. I’m not sure who started it, but it the game is on between Caroline and me.
The aim is simple, get as muddy as you can during a race. There are no rules about how the mud gets there, though a panel of independent judges takes a dim view of mud which looks like it has been deliberately applied. Last year, my Adam Ant look disqualified me and Caroline’s smearing of grease from her bicycle chain on her leg gave her penalty points. Ultimately she won by taking a tumble at the Temple Newsam Ten and breaking a couple of ribs. There were no extra points for broken bones, personally I thought she should have had them deducted for showing off, but her collection of twigs, leaves and a Mars Bar wrapper stuck to a layer of mud gave her the edge and she won.
But this is a new mud season and the game is on. Today’s race had the wrong kind of mud, non-stick mud, we were hardly dirty, it was embarrassing. After a quick inspection, the judges declared a draw. Let’s hope it rains a lot more before the next one!