SAA Cross-Country 2011
Sat, 22nd January (1400 – 1700 hrs)
“…And look for the stars as the sun goes down,
each breath that you take has a thunderous sound…”
– ‘Everything’s Magic’, Angels & Airwaves
Last Saturday, I made history: I sat beside a portion of the Berlin Wall.
Because everything else about the 60th edition of the SAA Cross-Country seemed forgettable: a too-sunny afternoon, a pre-race stomach cramp, eating dust in the face of faster competitors and, as usual, running till there’s nothing left to see but the sky.
The guys have a routine where the warm-up is where we let all our fears evaporate: Nic will talk about his pace, Kelvin will talk about the “good old days” when it wasn’t so competitive, and Alan & I will rehearse some thrash-talking. How slow? How fast to start? What to say when we cross the finishing line? Watching the girls come in on the way back, we start to scream and shout: it gives me a thrill to know that other people have finished before I start.
At the starting line everyone eyes everyone else, but Norman is the king of cool: he tells us to enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately none of us heed the advice, because once the men’s race begins in a sandstorm of gravel dust, everyone launches themselves into it. It takes just 700 metres, but the long column of runners begins to spread. I see the lead getting further and then I tell myself: ok just pace that guy in front.
But when he drops back, there’s no one but Nic to follow. And so my race gets defined by the fellow yellow shirt in front of me. The scenery is unremarkable, and the only interesting thing happens when Nic and I sandwich another runner between ourselves. Poor guy. When it comes to the end, Nic pulls away. And the first thing I think when I cross the end-line is: graduate loh.
Consolation: NUS Womens’ Team A got their 3rd place. Ups to the womens’ team for once again outperforming the senior guys – one of the highlights of the day (helping Mr. Kunalan pick up litter was another).
As always, I’m grateful for supporters: I hear them before I see them. And hearing people shout your name to the crunch of gravel beneath your shoes is the most underrated feeling in running. Ever.