The Mud, the Sweat and the Tears!

Posted in The Sweat by Matt Ward on Sun 20 Feb '11

© Matt Jones / Facebook

I have seen some comments online and via Twitter that the ‘National’ should not have been run on Saturday, the course just wasn’t a true test of an athletes ability, it was a silly war of attrition and so on.

Our view – although the mud did seem a little excessive, it was cross country as it should be, tough.

After our little report on the race, we have been wadding through the piles of photos and videos online and brought you our favourites from yesterday’s action at Alton Towers. Some images are pure racing, some are reportage and portray an atmosphere of good hard, (not so) clean sport.

We like this one of Steve Vernon (left) with Mike Skinner, as Steve seems to have far less mud on him than almost all of the rest of the field – a good reason to get out front, and stay out front.

© Bryan Mills

There are also some great little videos by Bethanie Murray over at the athleticos site too.

We know that a kindred spirit, Jason Henderson at Athletics Weekly, has bemoaned the decline of XC in the UK and we agree with him – however, contrary to what some may think our view is that events like yesterday can only restore the faith that XC is an essential part of distance running in this country, can gel a running community and most of all that the racing should be tough (though with maybe a little less mud in places!).

© Matt Jones / Facebook

© Matt Jones / Facebook

© Matt Jones / Facebook

© Bryan Mills

© Bryan Mills

Reactions so far
  1. Colm Hill Feb 20, 02:05 PM

    I think that XC should be a muddy. Physically tough and testing. The All Ireland Inter XC were run the same conditions as the “Nationals” (going by the photos).

    If you want to be running fast times, run a road or track race. XC is about racing, not times.
    I for one, almost died in the Inter XC, but I’m pretty confident that that race will really stand to me once the Championship mountain races start.

  2. Ronan Feb 20, 04:36 PM

    Personally, I think that was a “true test of an athletes abilities”. An athlete is only as good as his or her determination and mental strength and that is really what xc and britain in general should stand for, yet seem to lack somewhat at the moment.

  3. Rene Borg Feb 21, 02:42 PM

    The only negative about conditions such as these is that it flares up any niggling foot injuries, but otherwise this is what cross-country is largely meant to be.

    One of the problems for the performance setup today is that many cross-country fields are run on golf-course like lawns making them basically as fast as road and track races.

    Lydiard knew already back in the 60s that the purpose of cross-country is to develop strength and flexibility before the pre-season starts without subjecting the body to the same anaerobic stresses they will face the entire season of track and road.

    This requires tough courses that slow down the speed and challenge runners strength, agility and flexibility. Long may it continue.

  4. Smithy Feb 25, 12:58 AM

    Does anyone remember the “National” at Milton Keynes in the early 80s? From what I can gather, going off the pictures in this article, conditions on that day back then may have been worse. (Weren’t the races further back then, too?).
    I don’t think that there was ever a question as to whether the Milton Keynes event should/should not have been run. People just took it in their stride and got on with it. It was just another muddy cross-country race. Nothing really out of the ordinary.
    It’s a sign of the times, and how attitudes are changing.
    Today’s society has become far too used to comfort and convenience… “softer”, perhaps? (Maybe also why the overall standard of British distance running has declined?).

    Health and safety issues have a lot to do with the way in which these modern meetings are staged. Too may rules, risk assessments and organiser liability worries are taming-down cross-country events.

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