This weekend was "Team Camp" up at Stirling University. There was a busy timetable of lectures,but part of the idea was for people to get together and meet each other. In total, 310 athletes have been selected to represent Scotland at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, covering 17 different sports, but many of us do not know each other. Athletics is the biggest team (followed by swimming) with 58 competitors, but even within athletics, I hardly know any of my team mates - "Ah, the loneliness of the long-distance runner" - probably because most track and field athletes meet at various events, but marathons tend to be separate. Hence, I was rather nervous about the whole weekend - and also worried about giving up the whole weekend 3 weeks prior to the race, as weekends are the main time available for training without the daily intrusion of work!
It didn't start well (well, actually it did because I eventually managed to find where to go to myself - Scottish Athletics were rather non-specific with "Stirling University" as the destination) as my name was misspelt on the lists, passes etc. It was, however, a good thing to pick up on, as it can hopefully be corrected in time for my official accreditation pass to match my passport (otherwise there'll be no entry to the Athlete's Village or Venues for me).
As I'd arrived early, I sussed the lay of the land and so by the time I met Ross (Houston - a fellow marathon loner), I could get him sorted with a Team t-shirt and photo before the sessions started.
To break the ice, we all had to practice a supporter's fist pump to the shout of "Go Scotland"! It was loud, but hopefully not as loud as we'll hear during the Games though, due to the marathon route passing through certain suburbs, Ross and I came up with our own hashtag of #GoVan!! That led us on to chat about the other athletics team members hearing the "Hampden Roar", while we get the "Glasgow Green Groan"!
With Team PingPong
Stirling University has a lovely campus with plenty of greenery and a central lake, so we could sit outside at lunchtime (having a laugh with Team PingPong) and watch the baton arrive, and I had a lovely walk in the evening, wandering around trying to find the dining hall. Slight schoolboy error when I had a look at a campus map before going for an easy morning run - there appeared to be a road that skirted round the outside of the campus, but unfortunately the map was clearly not to scale, as when I headed up said road, it appeared to climb up a 1000ft hill!
Opening Ceremony Kit
All in all, it was a good weekend and enabled me to put some faces to names, both within the Athletics Team (and management) and Commonwealth Games Scotland. We found out some useful information about the Games themselves and it really started to dawn on me just what I'm going to be a part of.
Kit bags ready for collection
Nursing Home escapee?
One of the most memorable moments of the weekend was seeing the Opening Ceremony kit being unveiled to us on the Saturday (public launch Sunday). There was initially quite a shocked silence, but as Sir Chris Hoy put it - it is not about what an individual is wearing, and may not be to everyone's taste when seen alone, but all together, under the lights in Celtic Park - what an amazing impact it'll make! When we all picked up the kit on Sunday, you could look round the hall and see everyone so full of joy and laughter - that's what it's all about! I for one, cannot wait for the honour of wearing it and standing up for Scotland with everyone else ("17 sports, One Team") - and for all the naysayers, I'd be interested to see how many refused to wear it, if they'd earned the right to!
For me, the stand-out moment of the whole camp was one that took me completely by surprise. One of the last things we heard was the new version of "Flower of Scotland" which will be played at medal ceremonies - I couldn't believe how much emotion washed over me, and I think half of the room were in the same position, trying to avoid anyone seeing the tears pricking at the back of our eyes - WOW!! and it still gives me the shivers just thinking about it!