13 November 2014

The John Lyon School - Sixth Form Cross Country 2014 - Shoe Chaos

Cross Country in 2014 was going to be tougher than ever due to the chaotic weather conditions. Three kilometres of mud, sweat, and tears lay in store ahead of the runners in the sixth form. The key news going into the event, however, was that key players, Marcus Tighe and Corbyn Hales, were injured, leaving it as a two-horse race between hot favourite Davin McAndrew and reigning champion, Robert Gibbons. McAndrew was seen as the favourite by many, although Butler (McAndrew's house) was not seen as the favourite for the House Cup, including by some of its own students: Louis Sassoon, in Year 12, said this in an interview.

Sassoon may have written off his chances, but in his interview he referenced McAndrew's chances. McAndrew himself declined to be interviewed for this blog, but we wanted to ask him his view on the chaos surrounding shoe choice: dry weather trainers? "Intermediate" cricket/athletics spikes? "Full wet" football boots?

We asked Norwood House Master, Mr A Jones, to comment on the situation regarding shoe choices. When pressed, he couldn't choose between spikes and boots. Here's what he had to say to Benjamin's Blog:

The biggest interview coup came when Robert Gibbons effectively ruled himself out of contention. The entire school was looking forward to the Gibbons vs McAndrew fight, but when Gibbons did this interview for Benjamin's Blog, we were shocked to see that Gibbons conceded victory before the start. Here is Gibbons's famous interview. I was trying to convince him otherwise in this interview. 

But by the start, the question was on everyone's lips: who would win - and what would turn out to be the right shoe choice?

As it turned out, football boots were not the answer. The difference in surfaces proved too much for them, combined with the fact that the trainers and spikes held up well where the football boots should have demolished them. When the football boot runners reached the dry sections, they fell back through the field. I wore the full football boots in the end, but by the time I ended up on the hard surfaces the boots had zero grip, with just six (later five, as one stud fell out) small contact patches of steel, as opposed to the cricket/athletics spike. It lead to two twisted ankles and two pulled muscles for me, as I limped home to a 48th place finish, running most of the race in that position.

The front runners, however, knew what they were doing. They ignored Mr Jones's advice and went for the cricket/athletics spike. Gibbons, as it turned out, called it correctly, as McAndrew, on the spikes, romped home to destroy the rest of the field. Some people even opted for the dry weather trainers, a move which caused a bad start on the heavy mud but on the drier sections the trainer came into its own. They moved up the field and despite poor finishes still were able to defend their positions.

Spikes, therefore, in hindsight, were the way to go. Those who made the right call finished high up. Those who ended up on the wrong shoe slid back down the field. It was a strategical cross country in 2014, and everyone associated with the event is looking for drier weather, and clearer shoe choices, in 2015.

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