Have you ever fancied becoming a UK Sporting Champion with little or no effort?
Last year I did. I discovered that the European Running Backwards Championships were taking place in Austria on the 7 & 8th of August. The UK only had 2 people competing so it was probably my one and only chance to represent the UK in something, anything, and to become a ‘UK Sporting Champion’ despite being not particularly good at anything physically challenging.
I reaaallly wanted to enter. I toyed with the idea for weeks. In the end I just couldn’t justify a weekend away in Austria, especially after my friends pointed out I should probably try it in the UK before attempting to represent our country in a sport which is taken seriously in Europe.
Running backwards is a serious sport? (Shrugs) Well yes, apparently. Or so I’m told.
It has lots of benefits: Running backwards gives you an intense cardiovascular workout, reduces the risk of leg and back injuries, helps create a stronger more balanced lower body and is a speedy aid to losing weight.
People claim that running backwards for just one lap could be equivalent to up to six laps of forward running and burns a third more calories too. Think of the time you could save!
I didn’t go to the European Championships. I entered into the inaugural UK Championships instead.
I came fifth.
Ok, ok, so I was only fifth out of the female contestants. And alright, alright, only about eleven women entered. But none of that is relevant. The fact is, as it currently stands, I am the fifth fasted Female Backwards Running Champion in the UK. And I have a medal to prove it.
It’s surprisingly difficult. Yes it’s easy to go a few dozen meters. Anyone can ‘run’ backwards a few steps, but believe me; your calves start to burn very quickly when you don’t stop. I probably should have practiced at least once prior to the day.
One memory that still makes me giggle is when I looked down to see I’d just stepped in horse manure. I continued running, naturally, but with every step I waded deeper and deeper into more manure. I had too much momentum to stop or swerve. Instead I just doubled over laughing and continued to run. Thank goodness I didn’t slip or trip at that point.
As the manure shrunk into the distance I noted it was several meters long in one fairly narrow path. One step to either my left or right would have spared me the mucky trainers. Perhaps I should have made a cap with mirrors at the sides, or at least looked behind me once in a while.
You can still watch a clip from last year’s race on ITVs Granada Reports. I am in the clip but I’m not saying where. You can play ‘Where’s Wally’ for me instead.
A BBC article about the event is still live on their website too.
Manchester is hosting their second UK Championships at Heaton Park on Sunday 14th August, 2011. It’s only £15 to enter online and the race is only 1 mile long.
Anyone can run or walk a mile. Go on, give it a go.
The official website can be found here. Online applications close in about a months time so you’d better get in there quickly, then you too can BOAST about being a UK Sporting Champion.