I’ve been quite fortunate/ unfortunate (delete where applicable) to be involved in the relays with my club this year, not just running them but being involved at the sharp end and competing for medals. Now as I say, it’s great scraping the selection, but man it can be a burden, particularly when you are the least talented member of the team, and by some way. It’s the Scottish X Country relays, at Cumbernauld and we have some talented Masters runners. I feel for Stevie and Davie, two very talented V50s but the V50 team needs three so they dropped down to the V40s in the masters hoping for a medal chance. Cammy on a level playing field with them but unfortunately of those that put their names forward I was next on the list to make up the team. I’m just a wee baldy guy who likes to try and push himself for himself. National team medals? Man that’s not my thing, because it hasn’t had to be since about 1988. I won’t pretend I wasn’t nervous because I was, not about running but simply about letting the guys down. I knew they would have us up there in the top 5 or thereabouts and Anne Robinson just wouldn’t get off my shoulder telling me that I was indeed the weakest link. Conditions seemed kind but with each race was getting less firm underfoot. I am not very good at x country but on leg 2 I could only do my best and I stood in the pen waiting to run up that first hill nervous but knowing I could only do what I could do. A few Masters teams came in before Cammy handed over, I had no idea what position we were in but guessed about 5th. Try not to lose it all Marko, you have your tactics, steady up to the top of the hill then once on the flat open up and start taking places. And I tried that. Steady up the first hill and the dragging loop, then up again to the top.
I was maintaining and time to start opening up. I could see a few vets teams ahead. Garscube, Corstorphine who were amongst the favourites ( I later found out it was their B team, ooops). Flat bit at the top, let’s kick on.
Except I couldn’t.
Granted it was muddy underfoot, the wind was building up, but I simply couldn’t change gear, there was nothing in the legs as much as I tried. Today I was having the run I expected the week before, but the wrong time to have it. Edinburgh came flying past and away. I’m starting to move up but gradually, the field strung out in front of me and I am where I wanted to be and the legs won’t take me up.
There is no tantrum, no excuses, no explanations except quite simply on the day I wasn’t good enough, didn’t run well enough, and didn’t have it in the tank. Don’t get me wrong I gave all I had, I didn’t chuck it, I did all I could, but we all have bad days at the office. Get to the finish, get there as best I can, and in in 14.46, 2 1/2 minutes course PB but the last time I had done it was 5 years ago in a storm. I was knackered, and man I was low, just kept thinking how I had let everyone down, that team that were all over the course cheering me on. We were in 6th, the same place I found out that Cammy had brought us in in too. It wasn’t my fault that I wasn’t as good as all of them, but wasn’t theirs either. No runners buzz, today, just a massive low. The Blues kicking hard. But suddenly the cheers, the excitement, Davie has pulled us up into third with an exceptional leg. Maybe I could just get away with this. With a lap to go my wee unfancied Motherwell team were sitting in third in the National XC champs, albeit with a host of clubs chasing us. Me and Davie were all over the place to cheer on Stevie but Edinburgh got back into third with a fine last leg, Stevie doing well to hold off the likes of Giffnock and Garscube who had beaten us at the Wests to finish in 4th. And that was that. Did my run costs us a medal? At the end of the day I don’t think it did. I could, if firing as well as I thought I could have, maybe been 20 – 30 seconds better and that wouldn’t have been enough, so now I am kinder to myself but at the time I was gutted.
And that’s it. The relays are over. I won’t be a counting runner in any of the individual ones for team prizes, the next relays are the Vet Road ones and the V35s come in so I’ll be in the B or C team for that now, my wee month of something different has gone. Out my depth? Aye a wee bit. Did my best? Oh 100%. Disappointed I never got more to show for it? Since it’s unlikely I will ever get the chance again of course I am. The running juggernauts go on, the winners keep winning, and occasionally the wave sweeps up unlikely people to be a part of it for that wee bit, and this was my chance to be involved. At the end of the day gave it my best but that best wasn’t quite good enough, but for a month it was good to feel a part of a team.
Is the Cross Country season finished yet?
Thanks to Kenny Phillips, Ewen Cameron, Gillian Glass, Lyndsay Theobald, Gavin Hinde for the pics.
Have a song from the 80s when I last got involved in the relays at a decent level. Fine Young Cannibals and “Blue”, because although I shouldn’t have, it is how I felt, and also how I feel a wee bit now I know it’s back to all the solo lone wolf racing and training stuff.