This morning we defrost the car and drive down the M1 to Huncote in Leicestershire for a spot of cross country, something by the name of the Huncote Hash. The race is on because unlike the Caythorpe run last week it’s not on road so won’t be as slippery. That’s the theory anyway.
Cross country is not my thing at all. I prefer any terrain that I run on to be smooth and tarmac if at all possible, kind of road like, certainly not muddy. Luckily, the fact it’s so damn cold should render the mud meaningless.
I have my River Trent hardened shoes on, the ones I used for Survival of the Fittest and they still have bits of genuine Trent algae hanging off them. They will feel at home in this race, as there’s a stream that we are required to run down. L considers wellies but in the end pulls her orienteering shoes out of what they thought was their peaceful retirement.
As we stash the dogs in the car and head down to the start, they immediately start a duet of howling, totally embarrassing but we can’t give into such blackmail. We ignore them, fully expecting someone to report us to the RSPCA.
We line up for the start amongst a group of cowboys and Indians; fancy dress seems to be the order of the day. Some of the girls are in saris; they have perhaps come as the wrong type of Indians. There’s even a gorilla lurking somewhere near the back of the pack.
I start well but then concede a lot of places. I’m not pushing myself too hard on such a perilous course. I have bigger fish to fry coming up and this event is basically just an excuse to get some miles in. How many miles, I’m not sure, as they are very vague about the length of the course, 6 miles, 6.5, maybe more. I also don’t have the correct footwear on and some of the hills they have us on are quite steep. I almost slide off a few of them. A camber up one ice covered hill, the surface seemingly polished by the runners ahead, and go sliding most of the way back down again. Despite struggling to stand up at times, I still think I’m doing quite well until a gun toting cowboy comes running past me.
Rumour has it that the course offers spectacular views of the surrounding villages and countryside but unfortunately I can’t look up to see because I’m too worried about where I’m putting my feet.
Towards the end, some parts of the course have thawed out a bit and I finally get some traction, managing to run at something approaching normal race pace but then just as I’m getting in to it, we come to the ‘highlight’ of the run. The wade through the stream. Thankfully the earlier runners seem to have broken the ice on the surface. The water though is still feet numbingly cold. My first thoughts are that thankfully it’s only a short section of water. Then once I’m up to mid calf in the freezing water, I think what a long stint it is. As I emerge out the other side, I have to look down to check that my feet as still attached to my ankles as I can now no longer feel them. It takes a good few minutes to warm them back up again and then thankfully it’s the finish.
My time was over 54 minutes for however far it was. They describe it as a fun event, a chance to fun and blow away the Christmas and New Year excesses. Doesn’t stop them disqualifying the first two runners home, who were minutes ahead of the rest of the field and it’s suspected that they found a short cut somewhere.
I fetch the dogs from the car and wait for L to come in. She duly does, managing to hold off a late surge from the gorilla.
Afterwards we retire to Scruffys, to nurse our trench foot and to try out their Sunday lunches. They are all out of beef, so their roast consists of grilled best steak, which is a rather nice variation. The soup starter is also rather tasty and filling, particularly when I remind L of her resolution to cut down on her bread consumption, which means I get double. I’m always thinking of her wellbeing.
(Photos Huncote Harriers AC)