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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Running > October 2018 > MUCKING IN

MUCKING IN

THE CROSS-COUNTRY SEASON IS ALMOST HERE. IT’S TIME TO SLIP ON A PAIR OF SPIKES AND EMBRACE THE MUD, SAYS CERI REES

TRAIL RUNNING SPECIAL/CROSS-COUNTRY

The start of an English National Cross Country Championships is unlike anything else you’re likely to experience – unless, of course, you’ve witnessed firsthand a wildebeest migration across the plains of Africa.

Shielded from the cold by a human herd, amid a smell of nervous sweat and tiger balm, it’s a full on charge towards the first bend. Survival instinct kicks in as elbows jostle for position and eyes scan rapidly for flailing heels equipped with nine-inch spikes. The ground ahead is likely to resemble a sludgy No Man’s Land.

Is it any wonder that cross-country running began in England, home of sadistic schoolmasters and extreme ironing? Michael Gove thought he was on to something when he recommended crosscountry running as a form of corrective treatment for miscreants. What Mr Gove failed to grasp, however, was that there is joy to be had in such an unadorned and unglamorous form of self-punishment.

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About Men's Running

When I first started running, venturing off-road was all about school cross-country races, generally around anodyne playing fields in heavy football boots. It wasn’t the kind of experience that books are written about. In fact, it was the kind of experience that scarred many would-be runners for life. But fast forward, cough cough, a few years and trail running is now big business. The clamour for places in the ‘big daddy’ of all trail race, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, is as fervent as the Virgin Money London Marathon and shoe companies now have entire ranges dedicated to trail and off-road. Why is it so popular? If you haven’t yet ventured off the beaten track, trail running is about being more in-tune with nature and taking stock of your surroundings. It’s not about times or even really distances; it’s about testing your body over different terrain with vistas to die-for! In this Men’s Running special, we talk about everything trail, from training to technique. We even cover a few races for good measure. We hope you enjoy!