Wrong Turn, Silver and Bronze at the National Relay Championships

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Record Start at the Relays
Record Start at the Relays

I answered a late call from Bellahouston Harriers for runners in the Scottish National 6 and 4 Relay Championships being held in Livingston at the weekend. There’s teams of 6 for men and 4 for women and super vets. There’s also two different legs, a short one of 3.1 miles and a long one of 5.8 miles.

As is always the case with arranging such events, my place and leg changed a number of times before being settled as second runner (one of the long legs) in the C team. I was happy enough with that, even though I realised that I would be one of the slower members in the team.

It really is a fantastic day and affords runners of my standard to participate in the same race as the best in the country, including Commonwealth and Olympic games athletes. Derek and Callum Hawkins, Ross Tool, Neil Renault, Freya Ross, Fiona Matheson and Sarah Inglis were amongst the many stars competing.

Jeff Farquhar
Jeff Farquhar
Marie McChord

It was great to get the opportunity to catch up with so many runners, especially the ones that I haven’t seen for such a long while, including Jeff Farquhar, who I last saw in Edinburgh on New Year’s Day 2011 and Marie McChord, who now claims to be a grand mother of ten!

There was a record number of teams entered in the Relays, 55 women’s teams (the highest in 17 years) and 84 men’s teams (equalling the highest figure reached only once before) and Bellahouston Harriers made a significant contribution to the record turnout, with 5 men’s teans and 3 women’s teams.

After the mass Start, I combined my warm up with catching up with friends before joining the pen and waiting for Stephen Mcgeough to finish leg 1, which he did in a very respectable 21:29. I set off downhill and started catching other runners, however I then realised that the only person in sight was Garscube’s Lesley Chisholm, who, unsurprisingly, widened the gap. I saw her running under a bridge and as I approached the entry, I was surprised that the marshal said nothing. I was expecting him to give directions but there was silence. When I exited the underpass, Lesley was no where in sight and there were three paths. With no directions, I assumed the route must be straight on and selected the middle path. After about 30 seconds, I heard a shout and looked around to see that whilst there were other runners following me down the path, at the tunnel exit someone was shouting that we had taken the wrong direction. I noticed club mate Erica Christie going up the correct path and turned around chasing after those that I had previously overtaken.

Erica Christie
Erica Christie

I probably used up too much energy in doing so but I was feeling positive and was now in a position where Erica was the next runner in sight. Although I was initially closing the gap between us, this didn’t last and I could only watch as she pulled away for the rest of the race.

This was the first time that I had run the long leg of the relays and I found the route to be quite testing. There were lots of twists and turns, rolling hills, some off road parts, puddles and wind as well.

Nearly There....
Nearly There….

The wrong turn also meant thatI didn’t know how far I had to go to the end. Gala’s Kirsten Maxwell and then Motherwell’s Emma Stevenson overtook me but no one from the men’s race and in the closing stages I managed to catch Cambuslang’s John McCluskey and muster a strong finish to cross the line in 43:04. I had lost a couple of places in my wee detour and also about a minute in time, that said, our team was to place 48th with a combined time of 3:07:04. The team above us, Carnegie Harriers A, finished with a time of 3:03:56, there’s no way that I could have made up that amount of time.

pic by Sharyn Rammage
pic by Sharyn Ramage

It was also good to hear that I wasn’t the only one unsure of the route, as Carole Setchell will testify.

Which Way?
Does anyone know the way?

Bella Belles in the Medals

Bronze Bellas
Bronze Bellas

On the plus side and what a plus it is was! Our women’s vet teams had earned Silver AND Bronze in their race. An outstanding achievement in anyone’s book. Our Super Vet Men’s Team had also placed runner up in their race. So all in all an excellent day for the club.

Silver for Bella
Silver for Bella

Many thanks to all concerned with the event, paticularly those who shouted words of encouragement to me as I made my way around the course, as always, it’s much appreciated.

Full results here

Photos here

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