The only way is Essex... | Jack Marshall's column

Gather close, children, for I wish to regale you with tales of a faraway land. A land where the folk talk funny but act friendly. A land which boasts the oldest recorded town in Britain and the longest pier in the world.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:55 am
Margaritas in Essex, yours truly on the left

And, if I do say so myself, a land where the tequila shots go down particularly pleasantly.

Essex. Essex is fun and not as up itself as London; it’s got a vibe to it which says ‘let’s have a laugh’. So, when a mate said he was competing at the CrossFit European Championships in Essex, a group of us from the gym decided to go to support him.

And, when we weren’t supporting him, we decided Essex would be a great place to pursue other activities - namely drinking in the sun and going on nights out in Colchester. For most of us, this was our first trip away from home in 2021, so we anticipated a lively one.

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Long weekends away are great. You can build into them, slowly getting into the rhythm of being away. We left early on Friday, five of us piling into a mate’s van and sharing Haribos. With midday, coffee became beer and the sun started the shine the further south we travelled.

The first event of the champs was at a local lake. The sun was impossibly bright off the water, the grass thick with green and heat. The challenge included running with a 20kg sandbag and a lap of the water on a paddleboard using only your arms. It looked taxing.

We toasted the sweaty competitors as they chugged by, sunning ourselves on the bank between heats. We headed back to the hotel via a shop to pick up hotel beers and to strategize. We landed on a Mexican restaurant which, as it happens, had tequila and margaritas.

After bundling into a taxi at 4am, a trying Saturday followed. The comp had moved to a warehouse where the announcer’s peppy voice bounced off the barbells a little too sharply. And being surrounded by impossibly chiselled bodies whilst hungover isn’t great for the old self-esteem, either.

But weekends away necessitate second winds, which we collectively found. More cans, more food, more shots - this time of the Sambuca persuasion. Onwards.

Our friend placed in the top 30 in Europe in the end, which is amazing. He was pleased and tired and inspired to aim for bigger and better. We were bedraggled, worn-out, proud, and very satisfied with our own efforts over the weekend.

You can’t beat a weekend away. And the only way truly is Essex.