Couch to 5K
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Windsor 10K Crosss Country

Well that was an eye opener.

Drove out to Windsor in what was the first glimmer of sunlight this month which, I think, was a good omen. Found the venue fine, an hour early – easy parking, no toilet queue and no queue at registration. Got my number and timing chip and retired to the car to wait the moment.

Slight misgivings as I sloshed across the field from the car park to the registration point and back but still, it was sunny now.

As I was lacing on my timing chip the heavens opened, heaved down with rain so sat in the car sharing slightly bemused smiles with the other runners sheltering in their cars. Still, half-an-hour to go; plenty of time for the weather to change. Radio 4 kept me company.

I could have taken up table tennis.

Fifteen minutes before the start time I really had to do a bit of warm up whatever the weather, so off with the trackie trousers, on with the trail shoes and out the car – and the rain stopped! Hooray!

Warm up consisted of a jog through a bleak and windswept marsh, I mean the meeting point for the race.

Apparently we were the only event still allowed to be operating in Windsor Great Park.

Everything else had been cancelled and pre-race intructions were three-fold:

1) You are going to get wet – get over it.

2)Do your shoes up really tightly there are some really muddy bits at about 6.5K

3)Look out for the lady deer at 3k who will get out your way and look out for the boy deer at 6k who won’t!

What’s the worst that can happen? I could have taken up table tennis :-(

So 10:00 and off we go. After about 400mteres everyone was pretty much sprayed in mud and looking like they were taking part in the World Rally Champs! Awesome. Windsor Great Park is such a great venue.

Really wet and muddy under foot but cool and not raining and lovely surroundings.

The course was described as “undulating”. Well now I know what they class as undulating I may have to avoid hilly!

First 5k were quite hard caused by a mix of me trying to run my normal pace and the really stick underfoot conditions. Oh and some hills; undulations my eye….

At 5k I pretty much wanted to go home, it is amazing the difference the underfoot conditions make, especially if you are daft enough to try your normal pace and not take it into account. I was pretty lucky that the route did not go past the car park I may have found myself off for a sneaky sit down.

At 6K there was indeed a short pretty steep incline that was almost pure clay and impossible to get a grip on unless you ran up the stinging nettles at the side (see pics later) , my shins are quite resistant now so I went for the grip and really disappointed the photographer poised for the slippy-slidy pictures I think.

6.5 K a long steepish downhill which was joyous, like being a kid again – wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and everything. However the course looped back pretty sharply up the other side of the same hill and it seemed twice as long and twice as steep that way. I even had to walk the last hundred metres or so up to the top of the hill, and to make it worse at the top of the hill was a water station so everyone saw!

Pride is a terrible thing. I could have taken up table tennis :-)

Anyway I wasn’t chickening out I had made a “tactical” decision based on the fact that my running speed was not much more than walking speed at that point that I should do a brisk walk instead and save myself for the top of the hill – well that’s what I tell myself anyway and that’s good enough for me.

Anyways cup of water, composure regained, off we go again small plateau then another upwards incline. Joy! Made this one in one go and was faced at the top with just the most incredible view all the way down from the statue of George III right the way along Long Walk to Windsor castle. Glorious, archetypal scene of Windor Castle. That’s why we did the climb!

The picture top right here.

About 3K to go really steep downhill to Long Walk then about 2K along Long Walk towards the Castle. Never has a road been more aptly named Loooonnnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggggggggggggggg is right! Blimey it is long!

Almost all the way along you can see the turn off from Long Walk for the last stretch to the finish line but the turn point never seems to arrive. Obviously it does, with about half a K to go nearly there, but what fresh joy is this? Three quarters of the last half a K is through about six inches of standing water. Laugh? Oh yes! It doesn’t half keep your feet cool :-D Hard running though, but what fun? When do you get the chance to do this once you are older than 6?

Finishing line approaches, a completely lovely name check over the tannoy and some claps and cheers from the on lookers and we were done, oh boy that was a hard run, not sure I have felt one that hard before. Managed to stand up long enough to have my tag cut off, get my medal and goody bag and collapse in the back of the car before I changed into dry socks.

So first taste of a real honest to goodness cross country race was hell/heaven, hard/wonderful, mucky, sweaty, wet and tough. Do it again? Oh yes you betcha! Fandabeydozey! I could have taken up table tennis but why would you? When you can spend a Saturday morning like that?

Somehow all the bad runs along the way don’t matter anymore, injuries and niggles, I got over them? Having to stop and walk? First time for ages I have done that and I am still standing! Red faced beetroot man? Uh huh that’s me!

It took me a year to get here but it was worth every step of the way. Now the work getting my fitness up feels like it is really paying back though my hill (I mean undulation) stamina is not what it could be obviously but plenty of time for that.

Slightly niggly heel but you know what? Don’t care can’t make me 8-)

For the number crunchers amongst you:

78th out 278

52:38 minutes which is quite satisfactory especially in those conditions much better than expected

Full results

Route and stuff

Here are some pics

24 Replies

Well done ! I long to do a wet and muddy run like that :-)


its brill! Do it :-)


Top time Greg, I couldn't mange that on the flat just now! Well done sir.


thank you, quite chuffed I have to say. What a great program this is! I am sure tha tmight have been said somewhere before 8-)


Well Done :)


What a brilliant account, I almost felt I had gone the whole way with you . . . . er . . not really! Seriously, what a brilliant achievement, well done!


Good god Greg (sorry no offence meant) that is a heck of a fast time running up mountains no less!! All that mud to contend with, water, more mud, more hills. You really have my respect young man, congratulations, well done. Now I hope you have a lovely stiff drink and are sitting by a roaring fire this evening with your feet up. :) Wonderful blog, enjoyed reading about your adventure.


thank you for taking the time to write - a fantastic blog which I really enjoyed reading and glad the 'boy deer' did 't get you. Well done on a great time and hope you have dried out now. And if you had taken up table tennis then you wouldn't have had the chance to splash through that last 1/2 k!



I'm already knackered and now you make me read your blog ;)

About time we got a glimpse up close to your running endeavors :)

Great blog.....can't wait 'til the next one.


sounds like you had lots of fun Greg and what a fab time!


The mud and puddles sounded brilliant, I've been checking some of the assault/obstacle events out to progress onto from graduation ... really enjoyed your blog, thanks Greg


Brilliant time! even on the flat that would have been a great time!! I'm not jealous honest....

Well done, have a well earned rest xx


Well done Greg. I've just had a look at some of the pictures and have got to say that looks brilliant fun. Great blog. :)


O, Greg, that sounds like such fun! Really great race/run on your part too!

Thanks for the wonderful post!


Fantastic Greg! Brilliant blog. You almost (but not quite :-) !) made me want to do a long wet muddy run up hills (undulations!). And what a fab venue for a run! Did you meet the queen? You deserved to! Can't wait to hear about the next one!


I laughed out loud at the bit about reaching the water station! Typical! Nobody would be judging you though Greg, you are a hero! What a time! In such conditions! Great Blog, loved the pics, what about your shoes? Are they ruined?


They took a but of cleaning I have say but they live to fight another day. Luckily running all that way through standing water got rid of all the mud. Need to find a home for all the sticklebacks I found swimming in my shoes mind you.....


Great Blog, loved the photos, how on earth could you run in all that mud, great time despite the mud. :)


Well done Greg!! Fab time and sounds like a very enjoyable morning :)


Brilliant time, well done!


Fantastic work Greg! Well done on completing what sounds like a gruelling, yet awesomely fun event! I bet you slept well afterwards!


That was a fantastic time in what look like very difficult conditions. Well done to you Greg.

Are you training now on mainly 10k's? Or do you do some shorter runs as well?

I'm interested as after finishing C25K I've gone straight into 10k training. My plan is to do two weeks of the training and then run another 5k to see if I've got any stronger. My theory being that if I can get to doing the 10k on a regular basis and comfortable with it then my 5k's must surely get faster. I guess I like having a plan to follow.

Well done again!


I do mostly 10ks now. Occasionally a shorter one with a ParkRun or two and sometimes I go for a shorter run with my 13 year old. I definitely found I took big old chunks out my 5k time once I stepped up the distances a bit and am starting to nibble into my 10k time as I go up from there. I try to go a couple of 10k runs and one longer one (currently 12-15k depending how the legs and feet feel) each week.

I am starting a build up for a half marathon in September.

Your plan worked a treat for me.


Thanks Greg, that's good to know. I'm really looking forward to my 5k run at the end of this weeks training to see how I get on.

I think that I will have to run the 10k three times a week in the end to help with weight loss, the shorter ones aren't enough to do it for me.

Good luck with your marathon training, looking forward to reading that race report.

thanks again,



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