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 Cocoon: Men's Surrey League Cross Country Hurst Green Saturday 11th November 2023

By Ewan McKay

In October I compared the performance of RPAC men’s team to the heroic endeavours of those WW2 heroes portrayed in Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen. I received feedback from some suggesting I had employed huge artistic licence. Others told me I was talking utter cr*p. Nevertheless, if that comparison was fair, which it probably wasn’t, then fixture two was more like the 1980s classic, Cocoon.

Not since the residents of a Florida rest home stumbled across an alien-infused fountain of youth, did so many old guys rediscover such impressive levels of energy. It would be harsh to say that many of RPAC’s runners are in the sunset of their lives but they’ve definitely had their lunch. Nevertheless, when the gun went off, it was like they had descended into a swimming pool delivering the elixir of life. 

These strange, wizened men took off like their lives depended upon it. Fran Dunham, aka Steve Guttenburg, simply because he looks most like him, hadn’t raced for a while and was astonished by the pace of these old guys. Ewan McKay, aka Brian Dennehy, simply because they both have grey hair, managed to come in first position for RPAC much to the astonishment of humankind. Guttenburg knew this didn’t count for much though because all of Epsom & Ewell’s ten-man team placed ahead of McKay. 

Many thanks to these runners though as, for some, this was their first proper run for ages including Andrew Bennett, Daniel Emson-Jukes, Paddy Patrick and Andrew Pringle.

As to the course itself, all these characters felt very much at home since there was more tape on show than from a 1980s store of Blockbuster. The first 500 metres snaked its way across a wet field before a bottle-neck of a narrow pathway bridged us to a labyrinth of identical fields. Btw, which official allowed that person onto the narrow stretch who was walking his dog off the lead?! 

It was a lovely day for running but the ground held enormous amounts of water and, for my part, I found it to be very taxing. Furthermore, I ran in a small group with one of those types of runner who speeds up when you try to overtake them (plus he beat me in a sprint to the line!). For the other members of the men’s team, should they ever decide to collaborate on a book or concept album then they can tell you about it themselves.

Once Andy Reeves is allocated in the results then we should be in 9th place on the day. The next fixture is Oxshott Woods on the 13th January so book it in your diary.

Anecdotally, a number of runners have told me that they’re looking to return to action for the final two fixtures. If this can happen then we should be in a strong place to avoid relegation as we have lots of talent within the club. So if you can make it then it will be out of this world …