I sort of made the suggestion last year after 3k on the Green that I wouldn’t mind doing a track race sometime. Bluff called as the CSSAL League that MAC are in have some Masters races and some of us old fogies are called upon to help out on occasion to get points for the Track and Field team. If you have read any of my blogs before you may be familiar with my last track race. About 1990 and running 3000m steeplechase at Grangemouth for the West of Scotland though I had stopped training and was smoking heavily. Cockily thought I would be fine, got lapped, walked off track in a huff, threw my spikes at Alex Naylor after he rightly gave me a bollocking and gave up running until 2011.
That’s some huff.
Anyway this meeting had an opening for 3000m masters (that’s over 35s by the way) and I somehow ended up agreeing with Coach John that a track race would be a good idea. All I knew about it was it was back to Grangemouth, it was run alongside the seniors race, Craig was doing it for the seniors and he is about 2 minutes faster than me at 5k, so looking like last place and getting lapped, but strops not allowed. But you know something, despite being nervous I was actually really looking forward to it. Something different. Turned up to Grangemouth and got the number on and had a look round the track.
Hadn’t changed a bit, the toilets even smelled the same. Couldn’t see my spikes though so I guess the place had been cleaned at some stage in the last 25 years. Had a wee jog round with Craig then said a wee hello to Connell Drummond who was running the 3000m for North Ayrshire. Connell had narrowly beaten me by about 3 minutes at the Dumbarton 10k…. aye excitement and dread were hand in hand. Ach no point worrying. The sun was shining, there were no hills, it would be over in 11 or 12 minutes. Something else to tick off the bucket list. We got to the start and it took 10 minutes or so to tick off who was there and who wasn’t. It was quite funny in let’s get this bloody thing over with type thing… then bang! we were off. I have no idea how many were in it, but we stretched all the way across the track so must have been at least 15? 2 divisions, seniors and masters. And they were away rapid. I was hoping to get in as near to 10.30 as possible but that first lap was tasty. I ended up hanging back and letting them all go as I was scared under that sun that I would end up not finishing and costing the club points, so I eased it off and ran steady enough. the big group was getting away and I was basically at the back of the field barring a couple of runners. Steadied myself into the run and enjoyed it, every time going by the stand I could hear the cheers, the roars, “Come on Motherwell”, “Come on Mark”, I really had forgotten what these league meetings are like. Atmosphere magic. People at Motherwell that I had never seen let alone spoken to before cheering me on as I very rarely see our T&F squad. Great boost. I spent the next few laps picking a few folk off without upping the pace then as I came round with about 600 to go the inevitable happened. I got lapped. The boy from Dumfries apparently ran sub 9 minutes, so no shame. The next runner to lap me got me at 410, so no shame. And it wasn’t Craig, so I was happy. Next guy in front of me was Connell and he was a fair bit ahead, and I hadn’t long passed a runner from EK who were in our division so was to be a case of digging in and maintaining my position. Last 200 and found a sprint, the roar from the stand as I passed it was astonishing, what a buzz!
Finished fast and a little disappointed to see my time of 10.32, but if I do it again I will learn to pace it better. But I wasn’t last so I was happy with that. Felt fresh after it so know I could have done better, but track is such a different discipline, I had forgotten how different. You have to run quicker. I have no idea what position I finished in the overall race but was pleasantly surprised to find out much later on that I had actually finished first for the Masters in my Division and had won full points for Motherwell so a real bonus. This will go down on Power of Ten and Runbritain as a race win and my first since about 1989 so can’t complain. Would I do it again? Oh aye. I wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be and I bizarrely really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was superb. I forgot how good that gets. If you get the chance give it a go. If selected I would definitely do it again.
“Run Quicker” from the aptly named Boxed in. The first lap showed me the track and road difference. “When they all run quicker there’s not much else you can do”.
Thanks to Garry Hawthorn and myself for the pics.