I think the next line of the song is "there's nothing quite like it for cooling the blood". However with the temperature hovering not too far above freezing, the cooling properties of this veritable mud bath was not going to have to be called upon.
Summerhill, Hartelepool was the setting for yesterdays 107th running of the North East Cross Country Championships.
I had ran at this venue on two previous occasions and knew it would be a tough and testing course. As we toed the line I headed to the middle of the pack, as we stood Penguin like, huddled from a cold breeze coming off the nearby North Sea.
Then as the gun sounded, I was seduced. whether by the call of the Siren just off the nearby coast or by memories of previous good runs here (2nd in the VAANEE Cross country Championships in 2001), who knows. But, the result was that I went off harder than I should have,
At the end of the first of four 3000m laps I was closing down on training partner, Luke,who had gone off even faster, and was feeling pretty good.
However, as I forded the stream for the second time and started up the next climb, I was reminded of just how fit (or unfit) I currently am. Although I managed to maintain things for the remainder of the lap, I started to drop back during lap 3, before going into free-fall on the final lap as everyone I had worked hard to pass over the previous 3 laps all came back past me.
Hopefully, they had time to admire my impressions of Bambi on ice as my legs turned to jelly. The course and conditions took there toll and there were numerous fallers. Surprisingly I saw none on a short, steep downhill section about three quarters of the way around the lap. Which was so muddy and slippery the only thing to do was to adopt the tactics of a Lemming.
Coming into the finishing straight, which was about 60m along the side of a football pitch, I was passed by two other runners sprinting for the finish. Initially I had the unfamiliar thought of 'just let them go, I'm knackered' but a split second later I was giving chase and although I held off one of them the runner from Durham Harriers got the better of me.
With a finishing position of 190th in 55.48 it was not the best of runs by any means. But a little later as I sat in a semi vegetative state with a restorative cup of Green Tea in hand I realised just what a grand afternoon I had had.
The race was won by Andrew Wiles of New Marske Harriers in 39.48, from Leeds City's Carl Smith in 39.52.