Cross-country sorts the men from the boys and I feel like a six-year-old

Rachel Miller gives the crowd something to cheer during last year's Midland League fixture at Newbold Comyn. Picture: Tim Nunan
Rachel Miller gives the crowd something to cheer during last year's Midland League fixture at Newbold Comyn. Picture: Tim Nunan
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It’s happening, it’s happening.

I’m running the Birmingham League cross-country race at Newbold Comyn tomorrow and I’m not looking forward to it one bit.

I’ve not helped myself by looking at YouTube videos of previous years’ races, which appear to entirely consist of people ploughing head first into a dank, water-filled ditch.

As someone who hates getting even a little mud on me when out running, the prospect of deliberately immersing myself in knee-high water doesn’t appeal.

Doing it in front of a baying crowd, perched precariously on the banks in the hope of seeing runners faceplant, even less so.

Plus, while having little hope of passing the Daz Doorstep Challenge, my vest is, for all intents and purposes, white. Or at least one of those myriad Dulux shades of it. Runners’ white probably.

Should I somehow manage to emerge from the depths with my dignity intact I then have the steep climb of Beacon Hill to tackle.

Rumoured to be where Sir Edmund Hillary cut his climbing teeth, it is so precipitous that my GPS watch, so thrown out by its inclines, continues to map it as flat.

I have been practising on it, though, but with my head down I have sometimes found myself, 20 seconds in, lower on the ascent than when I started.

And, as for my breathing, let’s just say that I’m not going to be sneaking up and overtaking any runners unnoticed.

I am assured, though, that cross-country is on what great runners are forged.

According to Lord Coe it is “the supreme all-round conditioner”, with him going on to say that “if you can deal with what’s thrown at you on a tough XC course you can deal with anything.”

Hang on Seb, they’re going to be throwing things at me as well?

Now I’m really dreading it.

Did I hear someone say they still need marshals?