Early January in the traditional running world has often meant County Cross Country Championships and 30 years ago it was commonplace for Olympic level distance runners to toe the line in their County race, particularly if they were from a strong county where a competitive race would be assured. Gradually the running world has changed and if Mo Farah was to attend the Middlesex County race (as a Hounslow-reared boy that is his UK county) it would be an apparition or a PR visit of some sort. Mo did at least have a truly honest XC race in Edinburgh an in the televised 8k race was outsprinted on a very tough muddy course by XC specialist Garrett Heath. I was just pleased that the race organisers had been bold enough to invite someone who on his day can beat Mo on the mud, as his UK races often have been somewhat stage managed.
That said, the winner of the 2016 Middlesex Men’s XC, in the unglamorous surroundings of Wormwood Scrubs fields, was one of the most popular and long serving Serpentine members. And he had a solid close chasing pack over the very muddy 12k course. How he celebrated on the very day the austere new Government guidelines for alcohol intake were published I cannot say. Perhaps about 2/3 as keenly as under previous guidelines. In another very clear running and alcohol link, a few women coachees also ran the Surrey XC at Denbigh’s Vineyard – where the muddy January terrain (or should that be ‘terroir’?) was not the usual image of a wine estate.
Out in the less niche running world, the UK’s April marathons have a neat timeline to coincide with New Year’s Resolutions relating to exercise, nutrition and lifestyle. So at least part of what I have been doing is filtering out those seeking marathon prep to build on a sensible running base, from those for whom my best objective advice about an April 2016 marathon is ‘Don’t Do It’ this year. I also had a call from ‘concierge services’ seeking someone who could coach and train with a ‘very elite’ client – about as far from the world of County Cross Country as one can get in the sport. By ‘very elite’ I have in mind sub 28.30 for 10k though I may have got the wrong end of the stick on this one.