Monday, January 21, 2013

Snow + Cross Country = ?

I love the snow. There's nothing like going out on a crispy morning and admiring the sun glinting off a virgin snow field before you trample all over it.

Well, it's not been exactly like that the last couple of days. If only because we didn't get the sunshine. Still - the snow wasn't bad at all. Living where we do it's great fun to sit up in bed on the first morning of a snowfall and watch the cars trying to get up the hill. One year we watched a huge delivery lorry creep down the hill, do its delivery and then sit outside the house for the rest of the morning because he couldn't get back up the hill.

It does play havoc with school cross country fixtures though. Lesley was feeling so smug because we got Avon Championships over and done with last weekend. Wiltshire, we hear, have had to cancel. Don't know how Jake Bevan will feel about that. Devon's championship was held in Plymouth where they've had no snow at all.

We know all this because Lesley is in the throes of organising the South West Championship at Blaise next weekend, so she really, really wants the snow to go away now, please, if someone could organise that.....

Looking back over snow/cross-country clashes of the past I can't help thinking that maybe we've become a bit soft. When Kate was an Senior Girl the champs were held on Hengrove airfield, behind Whitchurch track. The snow was about six inches deep. Ken Holmes, who really did organise the thing in those days, insisted that every athlete had to wear leggings or track suit bottoms. Kate was furious: a) she refused to run in trackie bottoms, and b) she didn't have any Ron Hills. He wasn't going to let her run, until she borrowed her boyfriend's Ron Hills and took to the course looking a right sight.

Farther back still, as a young teacher I was informed that in our boys' grammar school all the junior staff took charge of a sports team. Somehow - perhaps it was my anguished cry of "I've never run anywhere in my life!" - they were persuaded that I would be good with the cross country team. Fortunately, they were used to coaching themselves so I just had to turn up and shout encouragement. They didn't need much of that either really. All through the winter there were races every Saturday. The weather made absolutely no difference whatsoever. In fact, at one school where cross country was taken very seriously indeed they had constructed a monster sized ditch that the boys had to run through and if the weather had been dry they would run a hose into it for an hour or so just before they ran!

Back in Leicester I would always meet Lesley in Brucciani's, whose cheese and beetroot rolls were the stuff of legend. (Legend, because I never actually ate one. I'm not stupid!) She came straight from her hockey match and then it was off for some cosy shopping in Sainsbury's. Ah - the dear dead days.....

Avon AA committee meeting tonight. Notice has come of the AGM of ABAC (if UK Athletics is MI6, ABAC is SMERSH). We might go to that. What's one more meeting to worry about?

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As a student I worked in a hotel in Devon. We waiters worked in pairs, sharing a work station, and my partner was an Italian called Giorgio....