Mud, Glorious Mud
Sean WallaceJones for IAAF
So ran the lyrics of the hippopotamus song from singing comedians Flanders and Swann. The song continued: "Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood, so follow me follow me, down to the hollow, and there we can wallow in glorious mud!"
Well, there wont be any hippopotami on this weekends course in Ostend, but mud there will be and plenty of it!
Whether it be at the start of the course, in the loops that criss-cross the race-course of the Wellington Hippodrome where peoples thoughts are more likely to be on todays rubber boots than the Duke of yesteryear or at the finish line, the competitors will be able to wallow to their hearts content.
Coupled with the mud, entrants will be spending much of the course running through the long-tufted grass that covers most of the circuit and, in the home straight, battling against a freezing wind that gusts from the North Sea and blows relentlessly down the final five hundred metres. Add to this the mild incline that characterises the home straight and you have a course that is going to try even the strongest of our aspiring champions.
At 11.30 am yesterday, the on-course thermometer display was showing 3 degrees centigrade, but the wind chill factor would take that figure down closer to, or even below, freezing. On the eve of the Championships, the rain is pouring down and will make going on the relatively well-drained course still heavier. The Calendar tells us that Spring arrived a couple of days ago, but no-one has told the meteorological services in Ostend of the change of season.
Marrakech and Turin, where the World Championships took place in brilliant sunshine and clement temperatures are but a distant memory.