It may seem like a very unusual thing for me to be doing, running a 10K trail race 2 weeks after Comrades, but for me it was an important run as it was my first official outing in a Scotland vest. I had made the difficult decision to “declare” for Scotland rather than England a couple of weeks previously, and this was making it official, as once you’ve run in a country’s vest, then the only way to change allegiance is if you have a 2 year break from competition.
I was very apprehensive about the run, as the Elite field was setting off alone, well ahead of the main races. Looking at the programme, I definitely seemed to be the odd one out as all the others were more trail/hill runners, and all seemed to race shorter distances than myself. I figured that at least there would be no pressure on me, as there were 3 of us ladies running for Scotland, and only the first 2 count in the International Competition, so I could just try to push down other lower placed counters for the other countries.
There was a problem with kit, butthe only option I had was to run in my Scotland vest and knickers…..not the usual dress for the muddy, wet Lake District. Lewis (1 of the Scottish men) and I went for a warmup run up the main descent on the course and I decided that I would be happier in my road shoes than trail shoes, as there was little distance actually torun on grass, and the extra cushioning would help my Comrades-battered feet.
The senior men, junior men and senior ladies all started together, with the junior ladies starting at the same time, but from halfway round our course. I have never been a sprinter, and so hate starts, but there’s usually a big field to hide in. Unfortunately that was not the case for this event, so within a couple of seconds I was several meters behind and actually heard someone in the crowd say “Ah, the poor thing!”
By the time we’d run a lap and a half on the field….which was rather boggy and “undulating”, I’d rejoined the others and made up a few places and so was just behind Clare, the 2nd Scottish lady. After making our way down a narrow path, we then had to climb up steps to the old railway line, but you could only go the pace of the person in front. The railway line was rough but easy running so I worked my way gradually past ladies here, knowing the hill and especially the steep downhill, would probably be my undoing.
My leg strength always surprises me…..and this race was no exception…..so I managed to reel in more positions as we climbed up onto the shoulder ofLatrigg, so as we started to descend I was just behind the last junior man and the last English counter. I tried to disengage my brain and let my legs take me down the hill (knowing how long and how steep it was from a very useful run down it earlier in the week….though admittedly in nicer weather), and so was only passed by one flying lady. My road shoes held out well, though they did make the final 100m run-in quite comedic for the spectators as it was ankle-deep mud there, but I suspect any shoes would have slipped.
I was overjoyed to be first home for Scotland, and find out that we were 2nd Nation overall…….who better to celebrate it with, (over a Father’s Day lunch) but my father who’d come over to watch!