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The Value of Cross Country


from Athletics Northern Ireland Baddeley gets muddy during the winter

Article as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine My first foray into athletics was cross country running. It is something that I have always done. I really enjoy the challenge of it. I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than finishing a hard 10k or 12k race on the country, knowing you have given it everything.

People approach things in a different way. But Coe, Cram and Ovett all regularly raced cross country and my coach Andy Hobdell always said that if it worked for them, it can work for me. It can be really hard going in the mud, wind and rain, it is such a hard test. But it is just so much more fun than simply running on the roads, I find the tough terrain really gets me going.

The way I see it is that if I want to be the best 1500m runner in the world, then I need to get better at 800m, 3000m and cross country. The competition in the UK is really healthy and as a 1500m runner it can really bring me down to earth. But I certainly won’t shy away from racing because I’m scared of losing.

If I can be competitive with good athletes in events that I don’t specialise in, then I can be really good in the one that I do specialise in. Cross country is a challenge, a very personal challenge. But I know it is making me better.

It’s taken me a while to get to grips with it and last year I made the GB & NI Team, by qualifying for the European Cross Country Championships, which is an event I’ll be striving for again

It’s not just the physical benefits either. Mentally, it is difficult to go through from October right the way to the indoors without competing. I train to race, not train for the sake of it.

Andy Baddeley is one of thousands of athletes who will be competing in the McCain UK Cross Challenge Series this winter.