It was a very sociable start to the Muddy Woody 6, as near 300 runners began along a narrow track and queued up to tackle the tracks through the woods. Dan, Dave, Suzanne and Nicky were way up front. Kim, nursemaiding me through my first attempt, began with me in the last quarter of the field. Kim was an old pro. darting – even ‘flitting’ – past runners in the early stages of the race to open up some space, leaving me scrambling to keep up.
The course has a constricted start, several steep heavily wooded hills, small amounts of track and two river crossings. The first of these is about four strides, the second about 20 strides, downstream, freezing, and rather deep for those of us with short legs!
Remember the mud swamp at Holme Lacy (XC league race) on 19 October, where you came almost to a dead stop as calf-deep mud grabbed at your feet? Several people lost their shoes. Extend that to 5.5 miles. Croft runners learn to ‘read the ground’ but here there really was no ground – I swear Kim’s leading leg disappeared to the knee in one swamp-hole!
After 220 pairs of feet had squelched the mud ahead of us, there were no tactics after the third mile beyond survival, and no technique or style beyond struggling to stay upright and maintain some kind of forward motion. By the time we eventually found solid ground at the finish my legs were jelly, and it was just as well I could fall downhill to the line!
We were dismayed to learn of Nikki’s injury, especially when only 2 miles from home and in 5th place, but how more of us didn’t suffer the same fate, I’m not sure! Fantastic result from Suzanne, Dave and Kim – I must be missing something, do you guys float?
I now know every shade, texture, and consistency of mud there is, and while the famous song calls it ‘glorious mud’ when you’ve seen 5 miles of the stuff, you’ve seen it all!