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by Ewan McKay, Mens XC manager

 

“My name is Ewan and I run cross country.”

Hi Ewan.

“It’s been two days since my last race.”

Clapping.

“It’s been going on for a number of years now.

It all started when the wife and I had kids. I was just looking to get out of the house really. I was only going to do one race but things quickly spiralled out of control.

Before I knew it, I was spending each winter knee-deep in mud. I tried to cover it up when I got home but the signs were pretty obvious. Dirt all over my legs and shoes; vomit down my front; guilt written all over my face.

It took over my life and it was all I could think about. ‘When could I get my next fix at Lloyd Park?’ I’d ask myself. I couldn’t wait until February. The wife doesn’t know but some nights I’d go up there after she was asleep. I’d don the kit, maybe spike myself in the leg to really make it feel like a proper start, and then I’d imagine myself going out way too hard for two minutes and spending the rest of the time being passed by runners. I knew it wasn’t good for me but I couldn’t stop.

I’ve not been on my own either. Others are at it too which makes it harder to break the cycle. Paddy Patrick is always there. It’s crazy stuff. By the end he’s always chatting to some random with his top off. Ian Burks can’t stay away; he’s been doing it for years. Tried giving up many times but keeps failing. Steve Bass has had it bad. One year his wife won the captain’s award for putting up with it! He managed to knock it on the head pre-Christmas but, bless him, he was back again at the weekend.

It doesn’t get any easier either. As soon as one person looks to move on with their lives then others replace them - recent new additions include Tom Casserley, Phil Stock and Chris Morgan. Poor guys.

The others and I ran at Oxshott Woods at the weekend. It was a sordid affair with a brutal hill midway that had to be repeated twice. I can tell you now that I’m going to be back there one night this week. I was so out of it that I thought some marshal was dressed as a cone!

The conditions were somewhat benign as it goes. Dry underfoot although quite heavily rooted throughout. I could do with more mud to get my hit but maybe that was for the best. In the end, the biggest challenge of the day was paying for parking using the Ringo app. 

Cross country is an addiction that I, we, are stuck with. We recognise we’re not very good at it but we keep coming back for more and we can only try to stop. It’s Lloyd Park next though so I’m not sure if I can hold out.”

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.’