Monday, 16 November 2015

Exhibitions, awards...and a run!!

Some weekends really stand out for you, and last weekend was one of those.
It all started on Friday when I was invited to the opening of the "Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games" exhibition as Dumfries museum. The exhibition celebrates over 80 years of participation and achievement by Scotland in the Commonwealth Games and is travelling all over the country so that most of the population can see it. I had contributed some things to the museum for it, such as my running kit, some pictures, my opening ceremony outfit, my Games duvet cover from the village, my "Village Clyde" and some of the paper "confetti" from the opening ceremony (which contained messages of support from Schoolchildren all over Scotland).
At the press launch...
In the afternoon I attended the press opening, which was great, as it gave me the opportunity to chat to the guys who had travelling down from Stirling with the main exhibition, and we also posed for several different photos (both serious - eg I got to hold the Queen's baton and then hand it onto a local youngster to show the "Games legacy" - and rather more silly ones - eg us all holding up my duvet as if we were about to jump underneath it).
As it was so quiet, I took the opportunity to look round both the exhibition (which brought back many memories of last summer and gave me some insights into previous Games) and the rest of Dumfries museum. I confess that I'd never been to the museum before and so found the whole place really interesting - looking at archaelogical exhibits, old photos, clothing, wildlife etc.....though the guys did say that it was the first time they'd had to set up the Games exhibits surrounded by cases of local flora and fauna!
The official opening was in the evening so I returned for that (with a nod to the Opening Ceremony last summer, there were Tunnock's teacakes on offer along with wine,cheese and biscuits). Prof Richard Haynes mentioned some highlights of the Games over the years, starting with a funny story from the first "Empire Games" in Hamilton, Canada in 1930. The first gold medal winner was Duncan McLeod Wright in the marathon (and it's nice to know that I've run faster than his time on several occasions). The marathon finished with 2 laps of the track - as Duncan started his final lap, the second place runner (an Englishman) entered the stadium....the 2 men met, shhok hands, and then carried on running - what a show of camaraderie and sprotsmanship!
A local highlight came from the 1990 Games in Auckland, when Dennis Love won gold in the Lawn Bowls (Mens' Fours). His widow had come to the event with his medal (it was the first time she had ever worn it and she was very nervous about doing so) so it was lovely to see it and chat to her about the event - she could not go over there as they had a young son at the time, but described the regular phone calls they exchanged and the local excitement following his progress.
Saturday was the day of the Scottish Athletics Annual Dinner and Awards. I was invited to attend last year, both as a nominee for Masters Athlete of the Year, and as part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games Team Scotland. Unfortunately, the date of the event in 2014 clashed with the World 100K Champs in Doha - but I'm rather glad I opted to go and run, as we brought back a great medal haul.
This year, I was again nominated and shortlisted for Masters Athlete of the Year, so decided to take up the invite and go along to the event.  I asked my friend Doug if he would like to go with me - and luckily, he decided that dressing up for a posh meal in Glasgow was more appealing than opening his front door to young "trick-or-treat"ers in Dumfries. The seating plan had us at a table of hill runners, so it was a great evening full of interesting chat.
Steve Cram was the guest of honour - and having grown up in the NE of England, I was eager to hear him speak. He regaled us with various stories from throughout his career - both from races (when the elastic in his shorts failed just before an important track race) and from his early broadcasting experiences (being left to fend for himself while the other broadcaster nipped off ot the bathroom, without knowing who was in the race he was meant to be describing).
Receiving Ellie's award
While we were having dinner, somebody asked me if it would be OK for me to go up and collect an award on behalf of my friend Ellie (Greenwood). That was fine by both myself and Ellie, but they wanted to check how to pronounce my name. I thought "OK, that means that I definitely haven't been awarded the Masters Athlete of the Year ward", but it was a honour to go up and get Ellie's award for her (though I was wearing high heels for once in my life so I was slightly worried about falling over on the steps!).
Having settled back with my wine to watch the proceding of the rest of the evening, I was shocked to hear my name announced as the winner of the Masters Athlete of the Year award. I was flattered to have even been nominated, never mind shortlisted - as I don't think that my results are anything special - I like running and so just get on with it myself. Some of the events and distances I run are rather "off the radar" to many, so I was actually stunned to receive the award - what an honour!
Myself and Nigel Holl
However, it did mean I had to negotiate the steps again - this time to receive the trophy from Nigel Holl - the Chief Exec of Scottish Athletics who himself represented Scotland over 100K a few years ago (though he did let me in to the secret that my times are quicker than his). We were then meant to go off for an official photo, but I rebelled and refused. I wasn't being stroppy, but I really wanted to stay for the next award - as it was the main one of the night. I was so happy to see Laura Muir awarded "Athlete of the Year" (by Steve Cram) as she has been perfoming so well and so consistently. A bad race (for her) such as in last year's Games, doesn't set her back, it just spurs her on to pick herself and go out and do better....and I think she's going to keep on improving!
Although we didn't stay for the "dancing" after the meal and awards, it was still a rather late arrival back in Dumfries....but I had to be up bright and early to celebrate the only way I know how....with a run!!
Nearing the finish...
Some of my clubmates picked me up in dismal foggy weather and we drove down to the Lake District. Amazingly (as I gathered that it stayed grim in Dumfries all day), the skies cleared and the sun came out. We had a gloriously warm and sunny run on the new route of the longstanding Derwentwater 10 mile race. Although the race was the same to a greater extent (as in we still had to run round Derwentwater, with the second half of the race being rather hilly), there were changes to the start and finish. We were walked forward as a kind of "rolling start" past the Moot Hall in Keswick - I think the aim was to try to ease congestion on the narrow streets of the town centre (I think a better plan might have been to move the start back so that the crowd thinned out before the pinchpoints), but it ended up with peopel not quite knowing where or when to start. After listening to feedback from runners on previous occasions, the final part of the race was also altered and we were sent on a loop round Swinside rather than having to finish along the main road, but unfortunately some errors must have occured as the whole race became about 400m short of the usual 10miles. Still, it was a beautiful run as the sun was out and the trees  were all sorts of fabulous autumnal shades - on days like that, I know exactly why I run....for the joy of it!!

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