A Close Encounter with a Tree


Having never really been into cross country at school, which is possibly an understatement as it was my least favourite activity I found myself entering the last cross country of the season for my triathlon club fulon tri. The previous one had finished with flapjack and cans of Guiness much to my delight so I thought why not give it another go. This had been from the warmth of my room, however standing on the start line with a frost on the ground it didn’t seem such a great idea. There were still blokes running in vest or singlets (depending on where you are from).

Unfortunately we had managed to find ourselves placed towards the back and before we knew it the race had started, or at least the start whistle had been blown. As unfortunately just after the start line was a narrow bridge that acted as a great bottleneck for all the runners to have a very leisurely start.

The race format was 2 laps totalling 5 miles, the benefit being that once you have done the first one you know how hard you can push and when to push. The first lap also went pretty quickly amazingly and I found myself overtaking more people than being overtaken a nice feeling compared to the previous event.

However the second lap was to be a bit more interesting as I found myself stuck behind a “man” who was not only holding me up on the narrow uphill section but who  also resembled something closer to a camel as every second gasp for air was followed by lots of spitting. I’m not really overly bothered by this kind of thing however it is slightly disconcerting as you overtake and are now in direct firing line.

Pleased with getting past this guy I wanted to decrease the gap with the man in front and bided my time for a couple of the downhill sections where I felt my slightly kamikaze style of letting my legs run would certainly close the gap. It worked on the first passing a couple more runners and was marginally slowed on the second. I was heading down and in my haste I hadn’t exactly chosen the best line. A tree was fast approaching and my ability to change direction massively reduced as I committed to the slope. With arms flailing I marginally missed the tree before promptly sliding on my arse. I somehow managed to pick myself up quickly, patted a slightly confused dog and carried on my way in what felt like less than a blink of the eye. Possibly a slight exaggeration but I was just relieved that I hadn’t hit the tree. It did bring back memories of a video I had seen…

All that was left was a sprint finish there was last bloke in sight who I was sure I could catch however there was also one chasing me down. I passed the man in front and was then passed with mere meters to go. Slightly disappointed at this happening I was still pleased that I had improved from my previous attempt. It was just a shame that this was the last of the season. All that was left was an afternoon of watching the rugby 6 nations.

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