This year’s Midland Masters championships were combined with the Midland Counties Cross Country championships (for all age groups), which meant that at least there was some competition, but also a long drive – just over 100 miles, to Prestwold Hall (near Loughborough). After months of heavy rain, six days of relatively dry weather might have led me to believe a slightly drier course. Quite true, but instead of the mud being splashy (as at Rotherwas) it was sticky and heavy, and our race (8k, with all the senior women) was about the fifth of seven, so the omens weren’t great. From the start, at the top of a grassy field, we looped around, through mud into the next field (which was wetter, being lower) and eventually began the first of two laps of a 2.25 mile loop. The faster of my two rival over 75s, Phil Brennan, was 30m ahead, but as we found firmer footing, he began to pull away, until I was able to claw some back as we climbed a bit on the later stages of the loop. Back into muddy fields towards the end of the loop, and I could feel not only my shoes being tugged at but my legs feeling heavier (quite literally; after the race I removed my shoes and excess mud, but I scraped off a further 10 oz of mud at home). Over the second half of the second lap, I began to fall further adrift, and eventually finished 50 seconds behind in second place. By such championship standards, it was a varied, demanding but interesting course. Having said that though, I’m not sure I’ll drive that far again just for a 5 mile race!