Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Finish the race.....whatever?
or variations of it. A "quote of the day" came in recently via RW from DAVE SCOTT, US Triathlete saying much the same thing ..........
"If you set a goal for yourself and are able to achieve it, you have won your race. Your goal can be to come in first, to improve your performance or just finish the race. It's up to you".
Hard to disagree with that sentiment isn't it? But what if the race you finished was an event you had previously won and last weekend you finished 1296th ? Just 6 places from last.
The event being the (UK) National Cross Country Championships. The climax of the seasom for UK's top cross country runners. Held this year at Alton Towers, the largest Theme Park and Fun Resort in England. But after day's of melting snow and rain the venue's main theme was mud, mud glorious mud! I'm informed that after one leg fracture , the race distances were shortened for safety reasons. Lovely..........not!
Ron won the "National" back in 1966 (and 1968). This old Athletics Weekly depicts the sprint to the line with fellow Lancastrian Mike Turner of Liverpool Harriers.
(Liverpool was in Lancashire then!)
You will note that A.W. was priced at 1/3 (one shilling and 3 pence). 6.25p today. It is currently £3.95 !
It's hard not to admire Ron's longevity, perseverance and tenacity at the age of 73. But I must confess that if I had been spectating at the event I would have had mixed feelings about watching a childhood hero of mine toiling in ankle deep mud right at the back in one of the most extremes events on the calendar.
I think true cross country which can include mud and ploughed fields is the hardest form of racing at any age and in 50 years I've sampled the lot, I think. Track, road, trail, long and short fells races.
The "National" (typical start pictured above) used to be 9 miles for Senior men, the ultimate test of speed endurance including a start so congested it's like running in a crowded lift for the first mile or so; and it used to be so select that only a club's best 9 were chosen to take part. Nowadays there is no restriction.
So, in conclusion, well done Ron. Can't help but admire your valour. ( Congrats also to Complete Runner XC league winners Leeds City who were Senior mens champs and the ladies of Bingley H. who picked up silver medals )
On the other hand, Ron could have run the Northern Vets AC XC Champs at Warrington in which 10 over 70s, 6 over 75s and 2 over 80s competed with the ladies over just 5K. But then again he would have had to have been a member as it's a closed club championship.
What do you think? Happy to still compete when your P.Bs are a distant memory?