Well I'm back from my first World Cross Champs, with mixed feelings about the trip but on a whole it still been a very positive experience. Admittedly before the trip I was aiming for a top 60 and I think looking at a few the names that finish in or around that, a top 60 wasn't out of the question but it didn't quite go to plan. Finishing 91st in what is considered the most competitve foot race in the world has only give me a taste for more believe it or not and I'm sure on another day I would have achieved a better placing.
It's been a few days since my last post, so below you'll find an updated diary of the trip after my last entry in Heathrow....
Tuesday 24th March
Land in Amman about midnight as expected, I don't feel good after the flight. Started feeling a bit off colour into the last 20mins of the flight. After collected our bags we are met at the airport by Spencer Barden (who is looking after the organisation of the trip) plus our 2 security guards! who will be looking after us during our time here. During the 30min drive to the Hotel we are handed our room keys ( I'm rooming with Phil Nichols) and get a security briefing. Whilst Jordan is currently considered a low risk UK Athletics have decided to take no chances, unfortuntately it means we only allowed out of our hotel to go to the training venue (by bus) and to the supermarket (across the street - which we are escorted to as a group). We go straight to bed on arrive at the hotel.
Wed 25th March
After breakfast we have a team meeting and then kill time socialises in the hotel. In the afternoon we all get the coach to the secure training venue which is a 2k offroad loop policed by arm guards. I get in an easy 45minute run but breathing is a little heavier than normal today as Amman is at a slight altitude of 3000feet (I didn't know that until we got here, its not a problem though as we have sufficient time to adapt and its not particular high altitude). Haven't feel good today though, stomach has been playing up since last night.
Thurs 26th March
After breakfast we head over to the training venue, its just an easy 30mins this morning but I have stomach cramps which makes for an uncomfortable run. I see the team doctor later on who gives me something to help matters. Decide against running again later in the afternoon so stomach can settle down. End up going to bed early tonight as feel worse in the evening, don't sleep well either.
Friday 27th March
See the Doc. first thing, no sign of an infection so thats good news. ts decided that I should buy food from the supermarket rather eat the hotels though as precausion. After breakfast we get bus to the course, it looks far from being ready to run on! plus to say this is a gold course there's no grass to be found! Sorry, we do find some for the last 100m, its espicially laid out turf, unfortunately the remaining 11900m of running will be hard solid compact stoney ground. They are also putting a large steam roller over it today! The lap is 2000m long with essentially 3 similar length sections a long uphill, a fast downhill and particular hard flat section along the bottam of the course. The course is also very narrow, it's going to be an interesting race. Some of the others get an easy run out on the course but my stomach still hasn't settled so I decide to sit this out. Later in the day the stomach does seem to settle down a bit which is promising. Evening is spent discussing the tomorrows race, order in the starting pen and what length spikes to wear, some of the others are considering racign flats due to the hard underfoot conditions. I decide on 9mm spikes and arrange my kit and bag for race day before bed.
Sat 28th March
I get up early for a light breakfast (own food again), mid morning we get a bus to the training venue and most do a short easy jog and strides to loosen up the legs. My stomach seems to feel ok which is reassuring. Have light lunch before getting bus to the course. On arrival we find it is heavily armed with guards that look like something out of robo-cop! Weather is a bit cooler today, its patchy cloud and a bit windy too. Warm up area is small (approx 200m loop on not very good ground) which makes a train of running traffic when there are around 150+ athletes all warming up in the same location, its does the trick though. Last call closing 25mins before race so we go through early as a team and complete our warm up in the last call area which is immediately behind the starting pens. Again a small area for 150 runners but it good enough. I feel ok in warm up with signs of the stomach problems of the last few days. 10mins to go I decide to remove my tracksuit and gets some strides in (we only have the start straight which is uphill to do this on) i get a good 4 or 5 strides in and feel ok. with still over 5mins they close off the start area so no more strides, Im ok but a couple of the other lads haven't completed there warm up but can't do much about it now. We line up in the pen and try to stay warm ( the wind makes it a bit chilly, air temp is recorded at 12c) I am in the second row in the pen, which suits me fine. They make sure we are all lined up correctly in our pens we await the starters orders. When the guns goes its a fast start as expected up the hill (approx 200m long) to the first corner where the course narrows to only 3 or 4metres wide, traffic is a bit crazy here as people jossle for position after the bend the course is then downhill for 600m - with hard stoney ground underneath and unable to see my feet due to 100m other athletes immediately in front of me I just try to stay on my feet and hold my position. After the first lap the pace settles down and we end up packing close together as a team. It stay like this for the first 3 laps where we work our way through from outside the top 100 to into the 80th to 90th. I find that I'm struggling on the hill and regularly seem to loose ground to people here and then close the gap on the fast downhill. After 3 to 4 laps of this though I loose touch with a group containing 4 of the other GB lads running much of the remainder of the race in small groups just behind. Whilst the hills is tough the atmosphere is electric, the banks alongside are packed with hundreds of noisy supports from around the world with speakers blaring out old school music from chariots of fire to Peters Kays Amerillo! The speakers are right next to the course and help to blank out the pain in a strange kind of way! I hear a lot of support from english supports out on the course which helps and in particular the last 200m finish section I here a scottish chat shout my name and tells me to finish like I did at Nottingham (that wasn't a pretty sight that race though!) I finish strong and close on the guys in front but don't quite catch the French men in front of me.
We finish 14th and I'm 91st from 137 finish. Check out full results and further info and stats on the link below.
After the race my calves are in pieces, a get a short warm down in but don't do much as my calves and achilles are sore. I get brief and painful massage on my calves - Mike Skinner the git take a photo of me during this. The pain is etched all over my face - I might try and get hold of that one from him and post up for a laugh!
I will post some pictures up later in the week if I get chance.
In the meantime below is a link to a few pics of the us during the race...
Cheers for now