Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Le cross de Lecci

Christmas has passed with the usual ritual of over eating, drinking and more eating again. It was impossible to bypass the kitchen without taking a mit-ful of roasted nuts or surreptitiously cutting a morsel of Christmas cake, usually justified by coming back for seconds.

So on my return to Corsica, there was definitely no excuse to not take part in a cross country in Lecci, just a short drive from Porto Vecchio.

I appreciate cross country may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Perhaps the memory of being frogmarched through knee-deep mud by sadistic P.E teachers is an unwelcome blast from the past enough to put anyone off willingly partaking. But it is a shame, cross country competitions in England have always been a jovial affair; the odd man down in the mud and the camaraderie that ensues restore your faith in human nature, not the mention the extremely generous spread of sandwiches and cakes which follow suit.

What’s more, the loneliness of a long distance runner does not apply to cross-country, it’s rarely about elbowing your way to the finish line. But perhaps the ultimate joy of cross-country running is the freedom to run off road and enjoy the beautiful trails and parks which are often otherwise unbeknown.

With Christmas having taken its toll and not feeling particularly “en forme”, I couldn’t have asked for a better race to ease back into the cross country season: a flat 4.8k, 2 laps on a bright, warm January day....and a distinctly mudless course. That said, it was a struggle to find a pace which I knew I could maintain, especially with gazelle-like runners in the front of you gliding effortlessly through the air. By the end of the first lap my lungs were breathing heavily and approaching the slightest incline was beginning to fill me with dread. I finished in a respectable position; certainly not the best run I’ve ever had, but the friendly atmosphere and clement weather made for an enjoyable debut in the Corsican cross country scene.

I even had my photograph taken in the local paper; although it’s a shame they couldn’t quite get my name right. Anne-Sophie Marechal the Belgium, whoever she may be, seems to have stolen my moment of fame!