There are many reasons we run. It might be to keep fit, it might be to get the happy hormones going, and in addition I often use running to go somewhere new and for the buzz of competition.
The Anglo-Celtic Plate/ Home Nations 100km Championships 2015 was the chance to pull on a Scotland vest, work as part of a team, and test yourself against the clock, and the other Home Nations athletes. In 2014, the race had taken part in Kent, England where Scotland came 2nd in the team competition, and I ran 7-22, for 2nd in the Scottish Champs and 5th in the UK individually. Last year I felt as if I still had a quicker time in me, having had a hamstring issue, and it being a hot day.
But 2015 has been good to me, with Jennie and I having been joined by baby Nina, an expedition to Namibia, illness, and a hectic work schedule meaning – in short that I was absolutely miles short of the training I needed to do to be truly competitive this year.
This being the case, and having not raced in 2015 I had no idea how quickly to set off, in the picturesque village of Redwick, Wales. I set off with the group on 7 hour pace, some of the guys that I had run with last year, but with my lack of training and windy conditions after 12 km I backed right off, recognising this would be a 1 way ticket to destruction. So I ran the 100km pretty much solo, being wonderfully supported at each aid station by Scottish Athletics Val MacAuley, Craig Stewart, Lorna McMillan, and Noanie Heffron.
Heading towards the finish, I knew that Scotland team mate Ross Houston had won the event in 6-43, the fastest time in the world this year- truly remarkable given he ran solo and with the windy conditions. Despite being almost an hour behind Ross, I was pleased to get the job done in 7-41, enough for 2nd in the Scottish Championships (having overtaken Grant Jeans at around halfway), and 6th in the Home Nations Champs. Although my time was down on last year, due to various factors it was the absolute best I could do on the day, feeling I was having to dig deeper than a JCB for the last 20-30km. Grant MacDonald, a good friend who remarkably had fully recovered from a brain haemorrhage last year (not at the race) took 3rd in the Scottish Champs, and brought us home for 2nd in the team competition. England brought 5 very strong athletes, and there was no catching them.
The even better news for Scotland was in the ladies competition where Rosie Bell (2nd Overall in less than 9 hours), Charlotte Black, and Keziah Higgins clinched the title.
A huge thanks first of all to Jennie and Nina for allowing me to do some training, despite the fact I am at work and abroad quite a bit. I’m looking forward to taking my girls on holiday next week. Also to my coach Donnie Campbell, Scottish Athletics endurance manager Adrian Stott for their sage advice and motivation, and to our fantastic support crew led by Val in Wales. A massive thanks also to Merrell UK, and my other sponsors for their unwavering support, and excellent equipment.
I am not sure where I will race next, but it will not be for at least 5 weeks. I feel like the tin man this morning. Challenge wise, we have also found an absolutely outrageous possibility for early 2016, where access by vehicles is very difficult, but local packs of huskies are able to provide a support infrastructure. More to follow.